Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler

This book was recommended to me by a work colleague who said that he considered using the book in a philosophy course. And if I were still an active member of the Nyack Library book club, I might consider nominating this book at the annual book choosing meeting.

My reason for the hypothetical nomination and his reason for the hypothetical assignment are the same. Saint Maybe is about saying something you immediately wish you could unsay but can’t; what Ian Bedloe says has tragic consequences, and he spends the next 20 years taking moral responsibility for the consequences[raising his brother and his sister-in-law’s children] as a way of atoning for what he said. This plot raises issues of causation and responsibility that are fun to argue about. And is he a saint or a martyr? The personal result of Ian’s choice on Ian – the not having a life for years part, though he’s cheery about that thanks to religion and there is a happy and fulfilled ending for him, will reverberate with the caretaking and ex-caretaking part of my reading audience.

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