Sunday, July 19, 2015

Saint Anything: Sarah Dessen's Best Yet

Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Penguin Australia

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.
Review by Nara

I honestly feel like this is one of my favourite Sarah Dessen books yet. Which is saying something, because she has a ridiculous number of fantastic books- of which most of the earlier ones have a special spot in my heart for being among my very first young adult novels.

The strength of Saint Anything lies in the characters. Sydney is so relateable with her desire to step out of her brother's shadow and stand independently as her own person. She has difficulty with being "invisible" while also being judged due to the actions of her brother. While the situation she's in probably isn't something that many readers would have experienced (the poor girl goes through quite a lot over the course of the novel), the story in written so well that you can really experience what she experiences. The romance is also pretty fantastic, with an initial attraction that develops into a friendship and then further develops into a romance.

There are multiple conflicts in the novel, the main one of which is the inability of Sydney's mother to accept that her son is responsible for his own actions versus the inability of Sydney to overcome the guilt she feels about what her brother has done. To be honest, it was difficult for me to understand both sides. I could see where the emotions behind their actions came from, but there was definitely a lack of logic. Which I suppose was the point of that plotline- seeing whether the two characters can put reason above emotion.

Anyway, I'm not going to say much else about this book, because there are certain subplots that you should discover for yourself. All I'll say is that probably the only bad thing about this book is that it makes you ridiculously hungry with all the amazing descriptions of pizza and fries. So dangerous.

Overall: 9/10
Plot: 4.5/5
Romance: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 4/5