by Sarah Dessen
Summary: Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?
Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.
The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.
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Source: I received a copy from a bookish friend in my mailbox. Bookish friends are the best!
Surprisingly, Saint Anything was my first Sarah Dessen book! She’s like the queen of contemporary YA and yet I haven’t read a single one of her books. I’m glad that is now remedied because Saint Anything was wonderful and compelling.
I really connected with Sydney. I totally understood feeling invisible and I liked her narration. While I didn’t quite identify with her or her situation specifically, she was the kind of person I felt like I related to in a broad way. Who hasn’t felt like no one really sees you? It was so easy to slip into her story and just keep turning the pages. I was quickly engrossed.
I wanted Sydney to have an escape from her crazy mom and her life. It was like she never got to make a decision about anything in her family life. Her mom was frantically trying to make excuses for Peyton’s behavior and be overly supportive and it made their whole family focus about Peyton as a result. I don’t know what it’s like to have an older sibling, especially one with such a large shadow, but I felt terrible for Sydney. So when she found Layla and her family, I was so grateful. Layla’s family was wonderful and while they could be loud and dramatic, they didn’t treat Sydney like she was supposed to quietly follow them around. She got to have an identity with them.
Saint Anything was about love, family, self identity, growing up, and forging your own path. I highly recommend it. I don’t know why I thought Sarah Dessen’s novels were geared towards younger teens. There’s not anything graphic or extremely mature in Saint Anything, but it wasn’t some teeny bopper contemporary or upper “middle grade” fiction. It was perfectly YA and it brought me back to being a teenager and finding my own voice. I have since picked up the How to Deal pair of novels and have started reading it, happy to have discovered that Sarah Dessen writes beautiful and compelling YA fiction that isn’t just for young teens.
Saint Anything is definitely a must read and it works well for the summer contemporary reading.
Labels: contemporary, Review, YA