Thursday, May 7, 2015

Saint Anything - Sarah Dessen

*Image and Summary taken from

Book: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen

Summary: 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 Payton'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. 

Release Date: 5/5/15
Rating: 5/5

It is no secret, that Sarah Dessen is among my favorite authors and to be completely honest, I was prepared to come into this story ready to nit pick. There was only one problem with this plan. From the moment that I started reading, until the moment that I finished it, I was so sucked into the story, that there was nothing that I could find to nit pick about. 

I love how Sarah tackles such hard hitting topics in her stories and how she completely nails them. Her characters are so realistic and plenty of times throughout the story, I could find myself agreeing with how Sydney felt. She captures the feeling of being lonely, and feeling invisible really well, and it really makes this story pop. And its not just her main character Sydney who is well written, but each supporting character has a moment to shine and really show what they are made of. 

As I've already said, this story was one that I didn't want to put down. I found myself waking up in the middle of the night, phone next to me (I read this on the Kindle App), because I just didn't want to stop, not even to go to sleep. Though obviously sleep won out. And then there was the issue of work. I found myself reading small bits of the story every moment that I could, on the bus to and from work, during my lunch break, as soon as I got home. Pretty much every waking moment that I wasn't already preoccupied with work or another inexcusable activity, I was reading Saint Anything. 

I found myself curious with each chapter that I read, wanting to find out more, and telling myself that I would read "just one more chapter". Though one more chapter easily became two more chapters, which in turn became three. And part of that is because the writing flowed together really nicely. Each chapter easily segued into the next and I never felt like I was missing information or that there were large gaps of time to break up the flow. 

In comparison to Dessen's other books, I do feel that while this may be book number 12 for her, this book has brought something new to the table. It may have touched on some of the same topics as her other books, a female teen finding her way in the world and coming to discover more about herself over the course of the book as well as some romance aspects tied in, but the way they were presented felt different to me. I found myself waiting for events to happen based off of her previous books, but instead, found myself pleasantly surprised when they never came. 

And of course, one of my favorite bits about Sarah Dessen's novels, are the small nods to her other novels with mentions of a characters name, school, or even radio station. Each time one was mentioned, I would smile to myself, as if I was one of a few in on a secret. But these nods to her other novels also helps for her world to feel more realistic to me. Lives are intertwined in strange ways sometimes, and not always in noticeable ways, and for the author to add in these small mentions really helps bring home the idea she uses in Saint Anything, "In any moment, there were so many chances for paths to cross and people to clash, come together, or do any number of things in between." 

Saint Anything is definitely a book worth reading. It gave just the right amount of information to never feel overbearing and to also make me want to continue reading. The characters are realistic and definitely relate-able, and while the topics covered may be considered more hard hitting (drunk driving, drug use, feeling invisible, family issues, etc) the story never feels like its too much or too dark.

Also, if you haven't already read any of Sarah Dessen's other stories, I highly recommend them, especially if you like stories with realistic characters, hard hitting plot points such as divorce, rape, and eating disorders, as well as topics of self-discovery and family.

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