What It’s About:
Sydney has always lived in the shadow of her older, troublesome brother, Peyton. Her parents continuously forgive his bad behavior and Sydney always went along with it, until one day she couldn’t anymore. When Peyton gets behind the wheel while under the influence and hits a boy on a bike, paralyzing him, Sydney starts to drift away from her family. She finds that she doesn’t feel sympathy for her brother getting jail time and cares more about the boy that got injured.
So, instead, she gets closer to the Chathams, a family who owns a pizza parlor. They welcome Sydney with open arms and harbor no judgement towards her family’s mistakes. She finds a best friend in Layla and love in Mac, Layla’s older brother. They all make Sydney feel visible, and not just a girl living in someone else’s shadow. With their support and a few obstacles along the way, Sydney finally starts to understand herself and where she stands when it comes to her family.
As a massive Sarah Dessen fan, I’ll have to admit that I was rather disappointed by her previous two books, The Moon & More and What Happened to Goodbye. In some ways, they felt too much like all of her other books, making me feel like I was reading the same thing over and over again. I was bored, so I didn’t know what kind of expectations to have for Saint Anything. I wasn’t going to not read it, because it is Sarah Dessen, after all, but I was also just a tad bit skeptical.
Now that I’ve read the book and finished it, I can say wholeheartedly that Sarah got her jazz back. She finally wrote a book that stood as high up as her classics Just Listen, This Lullaby and The Truth About Forever. It is filled with heavy topics but written in a way that allows the story to flow easily. It doesn’t make the reader feel like they’re being hit with too much at once. And it also deals with topics Dessen hasn’t written about before, which was refreshing for a change.
One factor that Sarah always makes sure to include in her stories, though, is a coming-of-age narrative. Sydney comes into her own by the end of this book. But the best part is that it isn’t because she finds a boy who likes her. She does this all on her own. The romance aspect of the story isn’t front and center, but just a part of the whole story that makes it sweeter. I absolutely adored all the characters, which is often hard to do. When I first started the book, I wasn’t initially hooked, but the story did the job a few chapters in. I couldn’t put it down until the end.
Sarah Dessen is an established contemporary American writer. Born on June 6, 1970, she grew up in Evanston, Illinois. She is famous for writing realistic fiction under young adult literature genre. She currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and is working on her 13th YA novel.