By: Sarah Dessen
Published Year: 2015
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): 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.
I really like the cover of this book. Knowing it was by Sarah Dessen, I was immediately interested. She is one of the most solid young adult authors out there and I know that anything she writes will be great. I haven’t read one of her books in a really long time, so I was looking forward to checking out this one.
What I thought
Sarah Dessen has done a great job again. She has a great way with characters and making a reader really feel like they are a part of the world that she’s created.
Saint Anything starts with Sydney in court with her brother as he is getting sentenced. As you find out early on, her brother Peyton drove drunk and paralyzed a 15 year old boy. This was not a first or isolated offence, so Peyton is sentenced to time in prison. This, of course, throws Sydney’s world for a spin as well as the rest of her family. Her mom becomes very obsessed with Peyton’s life and only sees it through rose colored glasses. Her dad throws himself into his work, and Sydney kind of crawls into herself. She decides that she wants to switch high schools, so that she can start over somewhere that people didn’t know her brother. While there, she makes a new set of friends who help her learn who she is as a person, away from her brother and family.
I really enjoyed this book. It is definitely one of those books that when you finish it you feel like you’ve eaten a really good meal. It’s long and detailed but in the best way. The only issue that I had was that I kept waiting for something big to happen and when I finished it seemed a little anti-climactic and not fully finished.
Sydney, Mac, and Layla are absolutely wonderful. The brother-sister relationship with Mac and Layla was nice to see. It was also a nice contrast to the poor brother-sister relationship with Sydney and Peyton. I also liked how everyone’s relationships developed. While Layla was a little quick to include Sydney in her life, it was still believable because of Layla’s personality and because Sydney didn’t immediately open up to her. Mac and Sydney’s relationship also developed slowly and was very believable.
I didn’t like Sydney’s parents, but I don’t think that we’re supposed to. I also don’t know how I feel about the overall problem of the story. I think that considering how big of a deal it is, that Dessen glossed over it. I thought there as going to bemore focus on the fact that her brother’s accident paralyzed a 15 year old boy and that Sydney would talk about it a little more than she did. I understand that it was a lot of inner struggle, but there wasn’t much action with it. It seemed like this big even happened, and then nobody dealt with it. Again, I understand that that is part of the point, but it doesn’t make for the most emotional or life changing read.
This book also made me ridiculously hungry. Layla is obsessed with French fries and her and Mac’s family also own a pizzeria that is apparently delicious and also sells garlic knots. These are mentioned almost constantly throughout the book, so I wouldn’t recommend reading this without food nearby. I am still craving French fries and pizza as I write this review. It’s a fun little quirk of the story that I really enjoyed.
By: Sarah Dessen