Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication date: May 5, 2015
Summary (via 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.
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.
This book was really good. Sarah Dessen wrote another fantastic novel, not that I’m surprised. I ended up giving it 4 out of 5 stars, just because it wasn’t as good as some of her other books in my opinion, and a couple things felt off and/or unrealistic to me. I’ve read almost all of Dessen’s books, even if my Goodreads account says otherwise. I read most of them before I started Goodreads, so I left them shelved as ‘Want to Read’ since I can’t wait to reread them all! Nevertheless, I still adored Sydney, Mac, Layla, and the rest of the Chatham family.
While you’re reading this book, be prepared with the necessary supplies: your favorite pizza place’s phone number for delivery, fries, some lollipops (preferably in bubble gum, cotton candy, or root beer flavors), and a box of tissues. The cravings while reading this book are intense. I wanted to join Sydney for a slice at Seaside Pizza so bad when she described the pizza the first time. Yum! I think Dessen did a great job with her character development. I loved so many characters: Sydney, Layla, Mac, the rest of the Chatham family, Irv, and even Eric at times. I just wanted to slip inside the pages and join them all. None of them fell flat for me, especially when they were spending time together (which was often).
I’ve done some research on birth order before since I’m the last born/baby of the family myself, like Sydney. It seems that she and I are more like first borns with what characteristics we display: reliable, cautious, achievers, etc. Whereas Peyton in this book is more like a last born/baby of the family with his traits: fun-loving, outgoing, attention-seeker, etc. I liked that this helped me relate to her character even more. I could easily see us being friends, which I’d adore!
Now for some of the unrealistic parts of the book for me:
- Sydney’s parents really annoyed me at times. Yes your son is in jail, but you have a teenage daughter to also focus on. Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to pick favorites when it comes to children? They drove me crazy with how they ignored her for so long. I guess it’s a good thing though since it ended with Sydney finding the Chathams, who are AMAZING! Can I find a friend who has a family like that and become an honorary member?
- I don’t mind that the book is darker than some of her others, because that’s real life. There’s underage drinking, DUIs, creepers, etc. in the real world. But if someone was being a creeper towards me, especially when I was a teen, I’d tell someone who could take care of it. Creepers aren’t something to take lightly. I just found it unrealistic that the character chose to just brush aside the creepy tendencies. If your gut is telling you something is off, trust your gut. It’s usually right!
Other than that, I enjoyed the book immensely. I started reading Saint Anything on June 21st, and continued reading it for a couple days. Then about 140 pages in, I took a month long break from reading it. Not exactly sure why. I just wasn’t as hooked on the book as I wanted to be, I guess. But once I started reading it again on July 28th, I finished it pretty quickly.
Now onto Mac–OH MY GOD! I seriously love Mac. Total book boyfriend material. So sweet, understanding, and protective. While Sydney was falling in love, so was I.
While I was reading the book, I updated my reading progress with a bunch of my favorite lines from the book. A couple of them are: “You first had to have something–change, light, friendship–to understand the loss of it. And I did.” and “You never knew what lay ahead; the future was one thing that could never be broken, because it had not yet had the chance to be anything.”
Final note: Another amazing novel by Sarah Dessen. Whether you’ve read Dessen’s previous books (or not), give this book a chance. I’m positive you won’t be disappointed. The characters are fantastic. Yet another YA novel I’m happy to have read.