The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls, Ursula Hegi

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The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls is a very beautiful, almost fairy-tale-like story. Overall it’s a story about girls, women and old women and how they intersect.

“…when they were little girls – and in that became children again, living all the moments of their lives at once – child, woman, Old Woman.”

It did take me a moment to fall into the groove with Hegi’s style of writing and move with it, and be taken in by the story. It’s made up of quick and fragmented thoughts, but once I got into its rhythm it was a beautiful story to read. My takeaway from it all, is that it can be many different things for the different readers of this book. My overall impression was the power found in and necessity of women’s lives and their lives together. For some, it could be a story of grief , for others the focus may be on the story of motherhood and for others…they may not enjoy or appreciate its message(s) or the story found within? It seems to be a book that will be appreciated by some, but not by all?

So, once I found my groove with the writing style, I found myself quietly enjoying this one. I came to enjoy the fragments of thoughts and moments:

Nils wishes he had memories without the Nordsee for Lotte; but he cannot separate the Nordsee from their lives: its roar; its whisper; its changing surface; its salty taste on your skin; its force when it tumbles you.

Every chapter was titled something that became meaningful with that meaning seamlessly woven into the text of the chapter. I loved and smiled at many of the chapter headings, such as this one:

The Mathematics of Loss. Of Desire

But what he sees are his children torn from her hand – Barbel Martin Hannelore – while she still holds on to the youngest. The mathematics of loss. Of desire.

However, I felt the ending left something to be desired. It ended rather abruptly and the only imagery I could find to best explain it was that it felt like you were just about to fall off the cliff, but your boat is left suspended in the air before it falls over. Other than that small point, it was almost a dream-like read filled with wonderful and unique characters.

It’s been years, and years, and years since I read Hegi’s novel, Stones from the River. Something about reading The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls has me strongly wishing to revisit and reread Stones. I remember that book only very, very fondly. I see from Goodreads it’s part of a “Burgdorf Cycle” of books, and I do have Children and Fire, so perhaps I should read Stones from the River again and then Children and Fire since they are part of this collection.

The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls is out in August from Flatiron Books. I’m glad I was given the opportunity via Netgalley to read this book in advance. The quotes taken above are taken from the Netgalley e-Arc provided.