I received this book for free from ALA Midwinter in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Published by Penguin on 2015-05-05
Genres: Coming of Age, Family, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Source: ALA Midwinter
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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.
I read two Sarah Dessen books recently and I still feel like I could read a million more. There’s really just something really special about her writing. It’s going to sound super cheesy but her books are just comforting. I love them and I really think that you should read at least one if you haven’t yet.
Saint Anything was the first new Sarah Dessen book I’ve read in a while. I was so excited to get a copy at ALA Midwinter. But I was also a little bit nervous. Dessen books all have a very similar look. Even when they’ve redone the covers, they all get redone. And Saint Anything just doesn’t look like a Dessen book. It’s beautiful but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I shouldn’t have worried, it was definitely a Dessen book on the inside and I’m so happy with the cover image after reading the book and how well it goes with the story.
Saint Anything follows Syndey while her family deals with her brother’s jail sentence brought about by a drunk driving accident that also left a teenager paralyzed. Sydney’s brother, Peyton, was always the center of attention, especially concerning her parents. And Sydney was usually fine with that. Peyton liked attention and Sydney was fine with it. Except now that he’s in jail, she’s at home, and her parents still don’t seem to see her. Her mother, especially, can’t stop finding excuses for Peyton’s accident and Sydney feels like the only one who feels any guilt about the boy left paralyzed because of her brother’s bad choices. She decided to change schools to get away from everything and discovers a new pizza place to spend time in between the hours of school and having to be at home. The pizza place is warm and owned by the family of two kids in her school. They quickly befriend her and she learns what it’s like to not be so invisible anymore. Her new found friendships and acceptance despite her family history, gives her the strength to finally stand up for herself and fight for what she wants. It also leads her to see those around her in new ways.
Sarah Dessen again does what she does so well in this book. She takes that moment in time every teenager goes through in between being a kid and being a grown up and shows how everything changes. Sydney starts seeing herself differently than she used to, starts seeing her family in a different way, and discovers that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. She sees her parents as people who make mistakes and as people with insecurities and doubt who makes choices that aren’t always the right ones. She starts learning that parents aren’t the only ones who help us become the people we are meant to be and that parents might not be who we want them to be, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t trying or don’t love us. It’s such a strange time, that in-between kid and adult stage, and Sarah does it amazingly well. The focus of the books aren’t romance, though that’s always a part of it. But it also deals with family dynamics and friendship and personal growth. She reminds us that we aren’t alone in our feelings and that’s the best thing about Dessen’s books.
If you haven’t read any of her books yet, I highly recommend them. They can seem a bit slow in the middle but the characters and their journeys are always worth it. Saint Anything is no different. The changes Syndey goes through, the people that she meets and who get her through difficult times, and the relationships she ends up with are the best. This one is definitely going down as one of my favorite Dessen books! You might want to make sure you have Dum-Dums and pizza on hand before you start it, though!