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Book Review
By
Jose B. Gonzalez

The Saint of Santa Fe
by
Silvio Sirias

 

The Saint of Santa Fe by Silvio Sirias is the compelling story of a young priest who has faith in humanity in the early 1970s—at a time when not all of humanity believes in equality and justice.  Readers of this novel might be reminded of Archbishop Romero, whose life was captured in the classic film, Romero, featuring the talented actor, Raul Julia.  However, this novel’s portrayal of Father Hector Gallego is just as much about a priest serving his parish against insurmountable odds in Panama, as it is about the lethal and institutional power of political figures and the dangerous interest groups. 


The portrayal of Father Gallego is inspiring without being overly sentimentalized.  And that is in part because as one reads this work, one can’t help but feel that the author has done extensive research.  That is the mark of a powerful novel that is inspired by true events. Not surprisingly, as Sirias explains in his postscript, he conducted extensive interviews and read several publications to compose this emotionally affective work.

As we learn in
The Saint of Santa Fe, Father Gallego was responsible for empowering the disenfranchised to the point where they were perceived as threats to those in power. Those who are looking for a Hollywood plot will not find it here. Instead they will be left with what the real-life disappearance provided—an urging for more questions. That honest approach to this novel is another reason why Sirias is able to convincingly capture our imagination.  Sometimes chapters in Latin American history are rife with mysteries, and the author’s tone and style provide a captivating look at one of the darkest and tragic mysteries in Panama’s history. 

 

  

 

 

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