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.
Published May 2015. Stand alone.
Can I just say that I just enjoyed everything? I feel like Sarah Dessen did an amazing job with this book. I had read several of her other books and with this one still fresh in my mind (having read the others a while ago), I'd say Saint Anything is my favorite book of her's. It's realistic with really great characters, which I'll get back to in a minute. The plot is interesting and there's a tension that keeps you turning pages. But then at the same time it's not heavy and even though there are things happening to the main character it didn't make me feel depressed or very sad, which I liked because I feel like it's you know...more relaxing. I felt like it's balanced really well. The writing is really good, I can remember thinking to myself that I'd forgotten how talented Sarah Dessen is.
Now, my favorite part has to be the characters. Sydney, the main character was easy to relate to and she was fine for a main character and it was fun to see her grow as she has new experiences and tries to come to terms with her brother being in jail. It was the friends she makes at the new school she's transferred to that I felt were the real stars. Or at least they were the ones who continually were the scene-stealers, for me. Enter Layla and Mac Chatham, they take Sydney into their group of friends and accept her how she is, family troubles and all. Mac is the love interest and honestly he and Sydney were quite cute. He's a sweetie and while you wouldn't immediately put them together, they do make a good match. But Layla is just very interesting and a free spirit. While She has french fry rituals and is practically a guru about where to find the best fries.
I thought the topics were handled really well and in a way that makes you think. The Chathams' mother has MC and then of course there is the fifteen year old boy who Sydney's brother hit and she feels very guilty about. Then there's the way that she and the rest of her family respond to her brother being imprisoned and how they all deal with it. The one thing that might drive you insane is how blind and annoying that Sydney's parents are. They don't pick up on how uncomfortable or hurt Sydney is at times and blame her for her brother's mistakes indirectly, putting a lot of restrictions on her. While they have gone through a lot, it's still pretty unfair.
Overall, I thought this was a great book. It was light enough to be fun and one that I could escape into, but it still dealt with a lot of interesting issues. The town and the characters felt real, I could practically see the pizzeria that the Chathmas run. I enjoyed Saint Anything and I read it in a day or two, which by my reading pace nowadays, is pretty quick. So yeah, it's pretty good and if you like a contemporary that's kind of in between a realistic fiction sort of story and swoony contemporary romance, then I'd definitely recommend this :)