Published by Penguin on May 5th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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A New York Times bestseller
"Saint Anything is a poignant, honest story about how we might suffer the misfortune of someone else's bad choices, how people who love us can become family when we desperately need it, and how starting over might - miraculously - mean taking a solid leap forward." —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling novelist of Leaving Time and My Sister’s Keeper Sydney has always felt invisible. She's grown accustomed to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of the family’s attention and, lately, concern. Peyton is handsome and charismatic, but seems bent on self-destruction. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, Peyton’s serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own, questioning her place in the family and the world.
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.
Saint Anything is Sarah Dessen’s deepest and most psychologically probing novel yet, telling an engrossing story of a girl discovering friendship, love, and herself.
From the Hardcover edition.
Saint Anything is my first Sarah Dessen book, which may have been a mistake, but all I know is that this book is a perfect example of how to write great, natural dialogue, fleshed-out characters and relationships, and never once make me feel a single emotion.
Despite reading praise after praise about Sarah Dessen, I admit I’ve avoided her work because her stories just do not sound very compelling. But I finally decided to cast aside my reservations and try this – a great writer can make any story interesting, right?
Um, I’m not so sure. I’m rating up on this one because it’s hard to deny that Dessen is a competent writer. The narrative flows smoothly and the everyday dialogue feels realistic – she captures the “voice” of teenage girls very well. Every character is complex and developed, complete with likes, dislikes, aspirations, hopes and quirks that make them uniquely themselves. Very few authors manage this to the extent that Dessen does.
But where is the hook? Where is the drive to keep turning pages to find out what will happen to Sydney? To Peyton? To Mac and Layla? It’s so so tame. Saint Anything needs a good shot of drama, angst, tragedy or something in order to be more than an exercise in good character writing.
Perhaps it will appeal more to readers who genuinely enjoy quiet stories about everyday people. But I just didn’t feel much concern for Sydney or Peyton. Maybe it’s because I’ve recently read books about people who are starving, discriminated against, consumed by grief, but I found it hard to be worried what would happen to a pretty, wealthy girl with loving parents and good friends.
The story begins with Sydney’s brother – Peyton – being sent to jail for crippling a boy while drunk-driving. Then the camera turns to Sydney, who has to deal with the subsequent horror of overprotective parents and concerned friends. It was honestly quite hard to pity her and I had to roll my eyes when the legal stuff put strain on funds and they had to sell the beach house they never used anyway (boo freaking hoo).
The most interesting thing about this book (in my opinion) was the way Sydney was treated by her parents after Peyton’s conviction. I thought it was realistic and unfair that her parents would suddenly put restrictions on Sydney to avoid the same thing happening again. Which, I suppose, is ultimately what this book is about – how someone can get caught up in and be affected by another person’s actions.
The romance was sweet, but forgettable. As I already mentioned, Mac was well-developed and fleshed-out, yet lacking any real spark of personality to make their romance one I would remember.
In fact, what I think I will remember most about this book is the FOOD. Pizza and french fries and yum! If it made me feel one thing, then that was HUNGER.