Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Pub Date: May 31, 2016
Genre(s): YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sydney’s handsome, charismatic older brother, Peyton, has always dominated the family, demanding and receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention. And when Peyton’s involvement in a drunk driving episode sends him to jail, Sydney feels increasingly rootless and invisible, worried that her parents are unconcerned about the real victim: the boy Peyton hit and seriously injured. Meanwhile, Sydney becomes friends with the Chathams, a warm, close-knit, eccentric family, and their friendship helps her understand that she is not responsible for Peyton’s mistakes. Once again, the hugely popular Sarah Dessen tells an engrossing story of a girl discovering friendship, love, and herself.
“You only really fall apart in front of the people you know can piece you back together.”
This entire story felt so familiar. Not in a way that felt like I had read it before, but more like I had lived through it before. In some respects, yes, I can relate a lot to Sydney and her situation, but there are a few differences between us as well. Without diving too far into personal territory, I saw a bit of myself in her, and so I felt her discomfort and guilt and invisibility at all the same times she did.
What I liked about the book (plot-wise): Despite their differences, Sydney’s family stayed together to form a united front for Peyton. They were financially able to support him while he was in prison (or at least they tried their best to). And Sydney found a home away from home, and friends who became a second family to her. These are all things I did not have, but it didn’t make her story any less relatable to me. I was happy that she had all of those things even though they didn’t necessarily make her life easier. I don’t know where I’m going with this anymore. I just really liked Layla and Mac and their family. I liked hungry Irv, and pretentious Eric, and even douchey Spence… okay, maybe not Spence, but everyone else was likable. Everyone except for creepy Ames. He’s the definition of a lowlife.
What I liked about the book (in general): Sarah Dessen is a great writer. Her pacing and character development is always on point. I read all of her books back when I was 15-years-old (and I think there were 9 or 10 at the time), but Saint Anything is the first one I’ve picked up since then. Now I remember why I loved her books so much. They are so real. Her characters are always authentic, and each book tackles very important issues that the majority of teenagers deal with. The only thing that bothers me is that Sarah’s protagonists are always caucasian and heterosexual (as far as I can remember), so hopefully her next book(s) will include more diversity.
If you’re into realistic teen fiction, this book is what you’re looking for.