Saint Anything – Sarah Dessen – Penguin Teen – Published 5 May 2015
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.
I have been privileged enough to now read the full copy of this upcoming release by the great author Sarah Dessen. Having initially read a sample of the first three chapters I knew this was going to be oh so good.
Sydney’s family is falling apart and she feels like she’s going down with it. Lonely, sad and troubled she happens into a small pizza parlour where she gets a first-hand look at a family that seems as crazy as it does loving. Sydney is used to feeling like an outsider, a piece that doesn’t fit. So when she meets the Chatham family she is surprised when she seamlessly slides into the chaos that surrounds them. From Layla, who is very particular about fries and makes a great best friend, and Mac, handsome, protective and always somewhere nearby, to Mrs Chatham, willing to listen and the centre of this loveable family.
Saint Anything is written in a very reflective style. A lot of it is about Sydney’s thoughts on what has or is happening. The story may jump forward a bit, but then the missed event is covered by Sydney reflecting on what just happened. But this doesn’t mean the story was slow or boring in any way. On the contrary, the whole time I was reading I was so anxious. I felt like there was going to be some kind of impending doom and I just had to find out what! The writing style also ensures that you are sucked into the story and makes it really hard to put the book down.
I love how Sarah Dessen’s books are about real life. Not sappy, unrealistic stories, but books with heart about hard situations, people with feelings and a mix of both good and bad. The story is truly about Sydney, and how she copes with her brother’s imprisonment and the way that impacts her family. But the story is also about the people Sydney meets and how intersecting lives impact everyone. From David Ibarra, the boy who Sydney’s brother hit while drunk driving, to the whole Chatham family. There is romance, of course, but it plays a nice backstory. I felt that all the loose ends were nicely tied up at the conclusion of the story with enough room left for it to feel like real life – it will continue on.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction
Age guide: 12 and up.
Themes: Romance. Family. Friendship. Drunk driving and incarceration.
Published: 5 May 2015 by Penguin Teen.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 448 pages.
Author’s website: Sarah Dessen.
If you liked this try:
The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler.