Saint Anything


9780451474704I’ve been a long time fan of Sarah Dessen’s novels and her latest, Saint Anything, although not my favorite from her, does not disappoint!

Sydney is a high school student who’s charismatic and reckless older brother Peyton has just been sent to prison for a drunk driving incident in which a another young boy winds up paralyzed from the waist down. After dealing with him being in and out of trouble for a few years, Sydney’s parents have now thrown themselves into being advocates for Peyton in prison, visiting him every week and talking on the phone daily. Sydney, who had been perfectly content living in her handsome yet misguided brother’s shadow until this point, transfers from her well-to-do private school Perkins Day to the local public high school because she doesn’t want to face the attention that her brother’s embarrassing tragedy has caused. She feels guilty for the boy that her brother injured with his stupidity and cannot fathom why her parents seem to be acting as if Peyton, instead of the boy, was the true victim.

Then she meets the Chatham family. Drawn into their warm, chaotic circle, Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time. There’s effervescent Layla, who constantly falls for the wrong guy, Rosie, who’s had her own fall from grace, and Mrs. Chatham, who even though ailing is the heart of the family. But it’s with older brother Mac—quiet, watchful, and protective—that Sydney finally feels seen, really seen, at last.

Although I loved the story, for anyone who has read Dessen’s other novels, some of the characters seem to be a little recycled from her other stories (it’s basically another version of The Truth About Forever). Also I would have loved it if Dessen had delved more into the issue of Sydney spending years dealing with all the attention going to her brother’s drug and legal problems, and what that did to her self-esteem. To me, the story could have gone deeper into this type of situation- what about the siblings of the troublemakers and drug users who witness the lives of their loved ones spiraling out of control?

Besides these issues, the book was a good read. And lets face it- who can resist a Sarah Dessen book?

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