23009402Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Source: ALAMW2015
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

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.  – Goodreads

Review:

Last year, I read a lot of Sarah Dessen, not all of her backlist, but most of it. While I enjoyed it, none of the books overly shined to me, this may be because I read a lot of them in a shot period of time and they started to blend together to me. Saint Anything is completely different, it stands out and is completely by itself and I adored it.

Saint Anything is the story of Sydney, the second child in a family who was never seen because her older brother always was the star. She was fine with this life, she really didn’t want to be seen, she enjoyed her life with her two friends at her school, Perkins day. Life was on a path that she had expected. What no one expected was her brother to drive drunk, get a conviction and the guilt that would then follow Sydney around.

I was used to being invisible. People rarely saw me, and if they did, they never looked close.–pg 3, ARC

She ditched her fancy private school for public and tried to work through the guilt and the grief. What she didn’t expect was how hard it would be and how the world all of a sudden because Sydney vs the world. The world of course, being her parents, mostly her mother. Her father, while he loves her, is often absent with work, her mother took the role of June Cleaver very seriously and she excelled at it. The problem with this though, is that her mother spent all of her time focusing on Peyton, and when Peyton went to jail she continued to focus on Peyton, but Peyton in jail. Sydney was still never a thought to her.

I’ve done the right thing. I always did. It just would have been nice if someone had noticed.–pg 61, ARC

Sydney really just wants to be seen and I understand that. At 26-almost-27, there are days I would like someone to notice. But Sydney realized something that I did a few years ago: it’s okay to create your own family. And she does. One day she walks into a pizza place by her new high school and becomes friends with Layla, her brother Mac, and their family. They seem to get her. They get the guilt that she is covered in and they let her talk. Not only do they let her talk, they let her listen.

“Why do you feel like you have to shoulder your brother’s responsiblity?” “Because someone has to.”–pg 187, ARC

Lately, I’ve been enjoying books that have strong female friendships. This is probably because I take my friendships seriously and I work hard at them and what I enjoyed throughout Saint Anything was although Sydney switched schools she still worked at the friendships she had from Perkins Day. Not only that when things changed, as friendships do, she still tried to make it work. Same goes for her friendship with Layla, they were both fiercely protective of each other and while there is a painful moment, they work through it. Like friends do.

You really only really fall apart in front of the people you know can piece you back together. Mac and Layla were there for me. Even if, and especially when, I couldn’t do the same for them. –pg 387, ARC

There was one part I did not enjoy, and that was a part with Mac, where he proudly wore this medal as a reminder of being the fat kid and how it was the worst thing. Now he eats horrible tasting food, but at least he’s skinny. Would Sydney have liked him if he was fat? Would it have been the worst thing if he was fat? It was the only thing that stuck with me for awhile, that a month later had me coming back and editing my review.

I, of course, enjoyed how Dessen brought in hints of her previous books that make it quintessential Dessen. Although this was a departure from her previous novels, it is still the Dessen we know and love.