K. L. Going

Saint Iggy

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Saint Iggy Summary

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Saint Iggy is a young adult novel by K.L. Going about sixteen-year-old Iggy Corso who, expelled from his high school, takes the opportunity to take his principal’s advice to “contribute something to the world.” The product of a drug-addict mother and a perpetually stoned father, Iggy lives in public housing with no electricity or phone line. Only leaving a note to indicate where he has gone, he leaves home. He finds a friend in Mo, a law school drop-out who, despite his many flaws, helps guide Iggy toward the help he needs to grow and thrive.

Randy “Igmund” Corso, or Iggy, is a sixteen-year-old with a bad reputation who has spent the last three years repeating his freshman year of high school. When the book begins, Iggy is awaiting a trial to determine whether he has to leave school for good, or whether he gets another chance. Though he has a bad rap among nearly all of his teachers and the high school staff, Iggy isn’t a bad kid – he occasionally goes to class, doesn’t do drugs, and avoids his father’s drug dealer, Freddie, who is constantly at their door looking for money. What Iggy lacks is the motivation to do better, which makes sense given the circumstances in which he has been raised.

Iggy lives in the projects with his mother and father. His mother is a meth-head who is never home – she claims that she always has someone to “visit,” though Iggy questions how she is really spending her time. Iggy’s father is either drunk or high and nearly always passed out on the couch, unable to work or pay the bills. As a result, Iggy mostly takes care of himself. Though all of Iggy’s teachers seem to be out to get him, sometimes even lying to other staff to make him look worse than he is, high school Principal Olmos believes that Iggy can do better. On the day that Iggy leaves school and is given a court date for his expulsion hearing, Principal Olmos tells him to try to “go out and contribute something to the world.” Iggy, who respects Olmos, takes the advice to heart – unfortunately, he doesn’t realize how hard it is to contribute something when you are only sixteen and nobody seems to believe you, or even be paying attention.

Leaving a note, Iggy runs away from home, finding some solace in his best friend Mo, a law school drop-out and stoner with an avid interest in eastern philosophy and religions. Mo and Iggy go to a party looking for drugs – the party seems to go on infinitely; it is nearly always where Mo and Iggy find Freddie, the local drug dealer. Mo gets some drugs but can’t pay for them right away, so Freddie gives them until Christmas to get the money. This puts Mo in a tough situation, and, eventually, the boys end up at Mo’s mom’s house, where Mo asks her for some money to cover the cost of the drugs.

Iggy unexpectedly finds solace in Mo’s mom, who, seeing that he is struggling, reaches out to help him get his life together. She refuses to give Mo the money he needs to pay his drug bills, but she does take Iggy to get his haircut and buys him a new outfit for his hearing. She encourages him to go to the hearing despite his hesitation, and for the first time in his life, Iggy begins to understand what it is like to have a real mother.

On the day of Iggy’s hearing, he goes to the building wearing his new outfit but cannot bring himself to go inside. He lies to Mo and his mom, telling them that the hearing was a failure and that he is going back home for Christmas. Meanwhile, Freddie the drug dealer is breaking into Iggy’s house to take property for the money he is owed, and has threatened Mo. The two make a plan to meet in an alley near a church to give Freddie the money, but Iggy has plans to get Freddie caught once and for all – perhaps this will be the mark he makes on the world.

After a heartbreaking meeting with his mother, where he finds her passed out and meth-addled on a bed in the party house and kisses her cheek, Iggy goes to the alley, only to realize that Freddie brought a gun with him to the deal. Terrified for Mo’s life, Iggy forces Freddie to drop the gun, picks it up himself, and shoots. The novel ends when Iggy looks down and realizes that he has been shot himself, by the same cop he called to catch Freddie.

K.L. Going is an author of children’s and young adult novels from Rhinebeck, New York. She began her career in publishing and used her insider knowledge to publish a handbook for aspiring writers hoping to write and sell young adult novels. Her books include Fat Kid Rules the World, which won a Michael Printz honor in 2003, Saint Iggy, and King of the Screw-Ups, among other middle grade and picture books. Fat Kid Rules the World was later adapted into a feature film and screened at the South by Southwest art festival in Austin, Texas, where it won the Audience Award for Narrative Spotlight. In addition to her work as a writer, Going does workshops and library visits for the Highlights Foundation.