Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
May 5th, 2015 Viking Juvenile
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.
Sarah Dessen books will always be my favorite. From the minute a new book from her is announced, I’m anxiously awaiting the moment until I can read it. As soon as I heard about Saint Anything, I marked my calendar and made sure there was a spot for it on my bookcase. (Of course, two sections contain my Dessen novels, whether they’re paperback, hardcover, or foreign editions.)
Saint Anything was fantastic and just might be my new favorite Dessen novel. I’ve always been able to relate to her characters in some way, shape, or form, but none as well as Sydney. Sydney has always felt invisible and second best to her older brother, Peyton. Peyton always seemed invincible to Sydney & not afraid to take a chance or stand out, but when he begins to get into trouble & eventually ends up in jail, the spotlight finds its way onto Sydney.
Sydney’s mom is described as one who gives her all to her children & will rally for them through thick and thin. With Peyton in jail, Sydney’s mom puts all of her attention onto Peyton and making sure Peyton is okay and adjusting. Sydney on the other hand is left to fend for herself & find her own pedestal to stand on. Throughout the book, the interactions between Sydney and her mom made me cringe. I was sad because I wanted her mom to realize how much Peyton’s sentence had an impact on Sydney, but I was also mad that Sydney didn’t have the courage to say, “hey, I’m your kid too!” Of course, this wasn’t her fault, I blame the pressure piled onto her from her parents. They’ve always counted on Sydney to do the right thing and to never make a mistake, so when she does make a mistake, and one that isn’t really a mistake, her parents, mom especially, make it out to be a big deal.
I love that Sydney ventured off and made new friends and tried new things. She grows so much because of it. She finds herself outside of the shadow of her brother and is able to [eventually] stand up to her parents and show them that she really didn’t mean to disobey them, but that she only wanted them to see her for who she really is and for them to respect her for making the right decisions, regardless of the circumstances.
Another thing that I really enjoyed about Saint Anything are the friendships that develop between Sydney, Layla, and Mac. Both brought out a confidence in Sydney that only bettered her as a person. Of course, there is a romance that blossoms in the midst of all the changes going on in Sydney’s life. It wouldn’t be a Dessen novel without one. 🙂
I wouldn’t exactly say this is classic Sarah Dessen, but it is at the same time. If that makes any sense. There’s a new depth to the story she’s created in this book and the character’s she’s brought to life. No matter what the difference is between her other novels and this on, I love it & I wouldn’t mind seeing it continue in her future works.
Five out of five stars