Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the start 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 see, for the first time.The über-populär Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discover, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.
Reading a book by a favourite author is like reconnection with an old friend after not having seen them for a long time. And that’s exactly how I felt while I was reading Sarah Dessen’s latest release, Saint Anything.
Sydney has spent her whole life in her older brother’s shadow. Peyton has always been the charismatic, commanding everyone’s attention. But lately, the attention that Peyton is getting isn’t for the right reasons. When everything takes a turn for the worse, Peyton ends up in jail for drunk driving and Sydney can’t seem to figure out where she fits in with her family anymore. Starting over at a new school, Sydney meets Layla Chatham. The Chatham family is so completely different from her own, and instantly Sydney feels comfortable and at home with them. And the more time she spends with Mac, Layla’s older brother, the more Sydney feels like someone is finally seeing her for who she is for the first time.
If I had to pick just two authors that are the reason I read YA, Sarah Dessen would be one of them, hands down (Meg Cabot is the other, in case you were wondering). I have been reading Sarah Dessen’s books since middle school, and every time she announces that she has a new book coming out, I get just as excited as I did the first time I read her books. And Sarah Dessen’s books are books I could read over and over again and never get tired of them. Which brings me to Saint Anything. I was so excited about this book when it was first announced. And then the early reviews started coming in and my excitement level went through the roof. And then I started reading and I was reminded (not that I really needed a reminder) of why I love Sarah Dessen’s stories so much. But Saint Anything is different. It’s darker than Dessen’s most recent titles. But it doesn’t hit you over the head with the darkness. There are parts of the book that are difficult to read. Parts that made me want to scream. Characters that drove me absolutely crazy. But put it all together, and I loved this story. It was understated, it was quiet, but it made me feel all the feelings I’ve come to expect when reading a Sarah Dessen book. Also, the title? When you finally find out what it all means? The feelings. Just all the feelings.
I absolutely loved Sydney and I felt for her. I can only imagine what it would feel like to grow up in her family, always feeling like you don’t matter all that much because your sibling has such a big personality. While reading, I just wanted to give her a hug, to tell her that even though her parents might not, I saw her and I cared about her. To be completely honest, for much of the book I wanted to yell at her parents. Her dad just seemed so oblivious to what was happening in his own home while her mom was so busy worrying about the son that got sent to jail that she forgot about the daughter she still had at home. Let’s just say that neither of Sydney’s parents are going to be winning any “Parent of the Year” awards. So I was really happy when she found the Chathams, this family that just took her in and pretty much treated her like one of her own. And the Chathams were pretty fantastic. I loved Layla’s bubbly personality and her obsession with French fries, the way she just took Sydney in without any questions and how she was there for her friend. And though he was more quiet, Mac stole my heart pretty early on. He was always there, sort of in the background, but you could just tell that he cared for his family and for Sydney. The whole Chatham family was just fantastic and I loved them all.
I won’t ever tire of reading Sarah Dessen’s books. For me, reading them is like coming home and with Saint Anything it was no different. Fans of Sarah Dessen everywhere will love this book and new readers will discover just how fantastic a storyteller this author is.