Not much in Kansas, except for wind and cows. Yet this is where Carly’s family has moved, three years ago, when her father felt that life out East had become too complicated. He was a defense lawyer and too many people thought he shouldn’t be representing people they felt were clearly guilty.
Carly has struggled to make friends and not feel like the complete outsider that everyone in the small town of Holcomb treats her as. She desperately wants to be friends,
best friends, with Nancy Clutter, a popular vivacious girl with an adorable boyfriend. But Nancy has made it pretty clear that Carly isn’t best friend material. Still, Carly holds out hope when Nancy asks her to secretly tutor her in Math. Carly keeps her fingers crossed that soon, Nancy will see her as a good friend.
Before that can happen though, tragedy strikes the small town of Holcomb. All members of the Clutter family still living at home, including Nancy’s younger brother and both parents, are found brutally murdered in their home on a November Sunday morning in 1959. Now Carly has lost all chance of becoming better friends with Nancy, and she grieves for what could have been. Everyone in town begins to suspect everyone, but especially Nancy’s boyfriend, Bobby. Carly can’t believe Bobby could have done such a horrible act, and decides she will set out to clear his name. Only nothing goes as hoped or planned.
No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear is a fictionalized account of a real murder that happened in 1959 of a family in Holcomb, KS. While the reader can feel for Carly as the outsider, the story tends to jump around and it is often unclear why Carly has such a strong motivation for doing what she does. It would have been nice for the author to include a more detailed author’s note – with more about the crime rather than focusing on why the author felt compelled to write about the incident. It could have been an interesting read for students beginning to get into the genre of True Crime or other fictionalized accounts of real events. Still, some students might be drawn to it simply because of the topic.
Recommended for students in 7th grade and up.