Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers, A Penguin Random House Imprint
Release Date: 05/05/2015
So, I’ve recently been telling my sister that I think I have outgrown young adult literature. But hello! That is total BS! I mean, contemporary romance will always hold the biggest part of my heart (sappy, I know), but authors like Sarah Dessen will keep me coming back to YA. She’s proof that if a story is well-written, then anyone–especially someone that loves words as much as I do–can enjoy it. The other day, I read that Sarah Dessen noticed a lot of stores and individuals categorize her books as YA romances, but she sees them as more than that. She sees books about families and all of the joys and challenges that come from being a part of a family, and Saint Anything could not be a truer example of that.
Saint Anything is told in first person POV from Sydney Stanford, a high schooler struggling to break through her cloak of invisibility. At least, she sees herself as invisible in the eyes of her parents, who are so focused on making something positive about her older brother Peyton’s imprisonment. On top of feeling invisible, Sydney feels extreme guilt over her brother’s drunk driving accident. And who can blame her? I’d sure as heck feel guilty if one of my family members put an innocent kid in a wheel chair. So, in an effort to avoid the guilt, Sydney transfers schools. She moves from Perkins Day to Jackson High School–a place where her and her family’s troubled past is unknown, a place where she can survive without people’s opinions of her changing, a place where she’s just Sydney and not Peyton’s little sister.
I absolutely LOVE Sydney’s new gang at Jackson/Seaside. Layla just gets my obsession with french fries (the Trifecta!!), and I wish she was my friend! It’s not all about the fries though because Layla is really just a good human being and a great friend to Sydney. She also has a hot (apparently he’s a really good kisser) and totally sweet older brother named Mac (Sydney’s love interest). I applaud Sarah Dessen for the way she wrote about Mac’s past (a.k.a. he used to be fat–her words, not mine). I thought that Mac’s explantation for his necklace was really beautiful and made me really understand that the transition from being overweight to being skinny and healthy isn’t all sun and rainbows.
Eric and Irv were some fun secondary characters. I think Eric is the good friend we all love to hate and Irv is the guy you want by your side when you need a big hug! Of course, there are other secondary characters, and while they are not as lovable as Eric and Irv, they are necessary. Ames and Spencer (the two a**holes) bring Sydney and Layla closer at the same time they keep them apart. You’ll just have to read Saint Anything for yourself to find out more about them!
Anyways, let’s get back to this book being about family–two are the focus of this story: the Stanfords and the Chathams (Layla and Mac’s family). Each Chatham family member has their own issues to deal with, but they are so supportive of each other. They accept Sydney as a part of their family when her own family is constantly leaving her alone or treating her as if she is Peyton and going to go off the rails any minute. I think Sydney’s relationship with her parents progressed at exactly the pace required (but gosh I would hate it if they were my parents!).
However, despite getting the hint that everything was moving forward and everything was going to be okay, I really felt like I needed more of Sydney and Peyton when it was over! I could just tell that they were really close when they were young, and I could feel them wanting to be close again. I wish I could have read a scene where Sydney and Peyton reunited with each other. I can just picture the tear-filled bear hug right now, and it has me awwing!
Conclusion: Ya better read it, cause it’s great! Lots of love for you Sarah Dessen. Congrats on Saint Anything debuting at #3 on the NY Times bestseller list!