Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: Saint Anything

xSaint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: May 5th, 2015
Hardcover, 417 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from 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 firs 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 has the gift. Her novels resonate with both teens and adults alike. She knows exactly ho to tell a girl's story as she navigates through life as a teen. I have yet to be disappointed with one of her books and Saint Anything was a great addition to my collection. Sydney has always been out shined by her older brother Peyton, but when he hurts someone while driving drunk and is sentences to jail, suddenly the golden boy isn't so golden. But her parents still think he's perfect and Sydney can't stand that he can do no wrong. As she tries to continue living as her parents stand still, she finds a new hang out at a pizza shop and becomes quick friends with the family that runs it. Mac, the quiet older brother who always seems to be there for Sydney, catches her attention right off the bat and listens to her rant about her family. She falls in quickly with the Chathams, loving the way they live and care for their sick mother. And for the first time, Sydney feels like she's found a place where she belongs.

Sydney starts out as a character who lets others dictate her life. She will pretty much do anything her mother asks her to, constantly gets into situation revolving around Peyton's friends wo makes her super uncomfortable but she's too afraid to tell anyone about it. Her story ARC is great as we see her come out of her shell, thanks to Layla and Mac mostly, and becomes the kind of girl that can speak up for herself and tell people when she's not happy. Her and her mother have an interesting relationship and it was great to see how it evolved throughout the novel, especially when her mother finally accepts that Peyton is in jail. It was strange how she failed to realize the severity of Peyton putting a kid in a wheelchair, but I guess when your child is your prize possession it's hard to see the bad in him. Peyton and Sydney had some things to work on as well. It takes her a long time to finally talk to him while he's in jail and it's a great moment when they finally break that barrier and become siblings.

I think what got me the most about this one was Sydney's relationship with Ames, her brother's friend, was something that I think too many girls find themselves a part of. Because he's her brother's friend and her parents trust him, she is constantly put in situations where she is alone with him and she does not like it. He gave me the creeps(as I'm sure was the point) and I wish Sydney had been able to tell someone about him sooner. I hope that this can give girls the courage to speak up about someone who may be making them uncomfortable, because I know I would have found that hard to do when I was younger.

There were great moments that still stand out to me, like the abandoned carousel in the park and how loving and caring Mac was (a nice change from the bad boy image that seems to float around in YA books). Layla was a great friend to Sydney and I loved that they hung out at the pizza parlor, doing homework and just being around her family. A great friendship is important to me in books because I like it not just be about the guy, although Mac has quickly become one of my new favourite book boyfriends. I loved how this book started. It was so different than her other books that I knew right away it wouldn't be the same story she's written before (as some of them can seen a bit recycled). Peyton has just been sentenced and Sydney is witnessing the whole thing. She grew so brave throughout this book and her character development was very well written. I always get super pumped for more Sarah Dessen after reading one so I'm glad I still have some old ones to read to quench my book thirst as I wait for her to write a new one. Pick this one up if you're a fan of hers or just a fan of great contemporary reads. You won't regret it.

"The future was one thing that could never be broken, because it had not yet had the chance to be anything."

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