The Savior of 6th Street
by Orlando Ortega-Medina
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 22 Oct 2020 | Archive Date 11 Aug 2021
Urban magical realism novel for fans of Haruki Murakami, Toni Morrison, and Junot Diaz
Deserted by his father at the age of four and raised by his voodoo queen mother on the fringes of Skid Row, Los Angeles street artist Virgilio Santos believes it his mission to save the down-and-outers in his neighbourhood. But when he crosses paths with Beatrice Schein, an alluring Westside art collector with an aim to promote him to the international art world, Virgilio is tempted to turn his back on his friends. That is, until he discovers that Beatrice’s father is the principal financier of organized crime in his neighbourhood with plans to tear it all down for redevelopment.
Rendered with urgent intensity, The Savior of 6th Street is a literary tour de force that confirms Orlando Ortega-Medina as one of the most original storytellers of our time.
"Gritty and unexpected...The Savior of 6th Street is Orlando Ortega-Medina's lucid and engrossing new novel about a sinewy young man growing up in Los Angeles's dark, 1980s underworld"" -Foreword Reviews
'A philosophical whodunit of the new millennium that is both elegy and prayer, The Savior of 6th Street proves that Ortega-Media is as much an artist as his young protagonist. Read this book!' -Lisa See, author of The Island of Sea Women & Shanghai Girls
'Vibrant, poignant' -Bookmunch"
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 10 members
I enjoyed this book it was well written with good character development/relatable characters and relatable moments that dealt with very raw emotions in a beautiful way. I cannot go into it without spoiling it so i will just say please read it, I would definitely recommend
this is the first book that I have read from Ortega-Medina and it will not be the last. It was really enjoyable, it was dark, disturbing, vicious and all the better for it. The novel is incredibly well written with great characters that I still cannot stop thinking about. If you are looking for something new that will slap you in the face then this is the book for you
This was a beautiful, visual painting with words--something the protagonist, Virgilio, would humbly accept as an invocation to Los Angeles and the cultures within its variegated confines. I requested a galley copy thru net galley, mostly because the cover was beautiful and the author appealed to me. I was not disappointed. Spoilers to follow. The life of Virgilio and the characters that are in his orbit is layered in color, mysticism and a dash of fear made more visceral by the beautifully described world in which they live. I loved the surrealism that populated this story in the Santería rituals. I also really appreciated the treatment of sexuality, gender fluidity and not simply the inclusion of a trans woman but how her life was ultimately empowering and not simply a tragic character struggling with her gender identity as I feel we so often see as the focus in a trans character's arc. My only criticism would be that I really felt unresolved in the confrontation with the King and Beatrice's reactions to his violence. It struck me as odd from the first mention of Teko that she seemed to gloss over multiple, horrific, murderous episodes on the part of her father in front of her with those she cared about most. I enjoyed the middle part of the book where we are meant to wonder, how involved is she? Is she bad or good? Does she know? That was really enjoyable for me, but then in the final confrontation it just fell short for me. I wanted her to either be shocked and horrified by him in a way that severed their relationship altogether, or for her to reveal that she has always known who he is and what he is capable of, and can no longer be connected to him without fear of her own life/safety/emotional wellbeing. In the absence of that, or in the absence of the reader getting to explore that, both characters then came to feel less authentic or real to me. I also felt like her death seemed an after thought? It began the book, so we know it's coming--but was it the death foreshadowed in Paris? Or was that Sexto? It did not come together for me. While at times I wasn't sure where the story was going, I enjoyed the rich and vivid journey. I look forward to reading more from this author.
In a run-down area of LA, Virgilo is an artist who paints what he sees in the seedy underbelly of the neighbourhood he lives in with his Santeria Priestess, mother. Desperate to protect those he loves from the dark goings-on underground and equally as desperate to save his neighbourhood from gentrification Virgilo is soon caught up in events that he can’t control. I picked this book up because of the cover. It’s just so beautiful – It’s like an amazing piece of street art. Just absolutely stunning – I couldn’t look away and had to see more of what the book was about. I loved the LGBTQ+ rep in this book and the way it was presented as just life rather than as an attempt at diversity cookies. Especially the trans-character, just so well done. Santeria is not something I know anything about. I’d say I was aware of it, but not that this was what it was called or anything further really – so I really enjoyed the way that this was such a prominent thread in the overall tapestry of the story and I found myself researching into it a bit more after finishing this book. This is a very character-driven story and each one is an entire individual with a back story and how they all engage with each other is really captivating as a reader. I loved how Virgilo’s neighbourhood also felt like a character in the book – especially with how he has some sort of strange communication with a bridge. However, what I found disappointing is that certain events happen and I should have felt anguish. I should have been weeping – but I wasn’t. I felt mild surprise and moved on. I cry very easily at books, TV, random things that appear in my imagination – so the fact that I was not devastated is down to the fact that throughout this book there is a level of disconnect that is weird because the book is so character-driven. This level of disconnect nearly caused me to DNF the book several times despite how much else there was to love about the story – I’m glad I persisted and finished, but that lack of emotional attachment is really off-putting and meant that a book that should have been an easy 5 star read, barely managed to scrape a 4 star.
I loved reading this book. It had an excellent storyline and great characters. Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this book.
3.8/5. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. I enjoyed the Savior of 6th street. It's a good tale that dropped me into the 80s LA art scene as witnessed by an underprivileged artist. MC was a young man verging on maturity, so we saw both the grown-upness and the childishness that contradicted each other. I haven't seen that before, and I appreciated that POV. The characters are mostly interesting and believable. The story is understated, but carried my interest. It's not listed as historical fiction, but the scene of life that this book evokes made me feel I'd been dropped into this place and time in history. Some of the character actions seem unbelievably extreme, and the story's climax didn't really fit with the feel of the rest of the book. It seemed to suddenly change genres for that scene. I would recommend the Savior of 6th street to those interested in literary fiction from a young POV and/or historical fiction not pertaining to a big event. I look forward to reading more from Orlando Ortega-Medina.
I really enjoyed The Savior of 6th Street. The story sucks you in right at the beginning and keeps hold of you up until the end. I really had no idea how the story would unfold and found it hard to put down. I loved the main character Virgilio. He is so well-written and has such a strong presence throughout the book. The setting was great, I really could picture LA and the underground scene clearly. The plot was interesting and like I said I really had no idea what I was in for. I enjoyed reading about the traditions and culture around Santeria. It is a great book and well worth your time. I look forward to reading more by this author.