Review | Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Publisher: Penguin 
Release Date: 5th 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.

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.


Two years ago when I read
Saint Anything for the first time, I liked it. Two days ago I decided to re-read it, and upon finishing discovered that I love it. I have since bumped it up from 4 stars to 5 stars. I decided to read Saint Anything again in preparation for Sarah Dessen’s new book Once and for All out in June (not long now!!!!!).

Saint Anything is so raw, so heart-achingly relatable that you have to read it for yourself to understand just how real  it is. Dessen has managed to strategically weave a beautiful story of family, friendship, forgiveness and redemption. I used to like Dessen’s work because I loved the romance in her books, but with Saint Anything, it wasn’t just the romance that hit home. It was the feeling of always being invisible until you find that one person, or group of people that you realise actually see you and get you. Perhaps the reason I was able to connect with Sydney is because I’m still searching for a Layla and/or Mac, but in the meantime, I have Saint Anything to give me hope.

Sydney has always been in the shadows of her older brother, Peyton, someone who is gorgeous, charming, and as Sydney puts it “once you saw Peyton, you couldn’t take your eyes off him.” This is in contrast to Sydney, who is pretty but in that “common-face-pretty” kind of way. She represents all the ordinary girls out there who aren’t striking in any way, who don’t have obvious talents, who just don’t stand out. Perhaps staying unseen is better than getting negative publicity, but sometimes all we want is to be recognised for our achievements, to be seen as an individual or our own person.

“My own life felt flat and sad too much of the time; It was reassuring, somehow, to lose myself in someone else’s.”

The quote above hit home because the reason why I read so many books is to somehow lose myself in someone else’s life. When my life becomes a routine, it feels flat and boring. I’m always craving a new adventure – which is probably why I love travelling so much – but in the meantime when I’m stuck in the same city doing the same things every day, losing myself in books keeps me sane.

“But without them (TV Show characters), the house felt so empty….I;d grown to dread the moment I stepped off the bus after school.”

As an only child, I usually have the entire house to myself when my parents are at work. I used to like it when I was younger, but now? It’s lonely. I always dread going home early on Friday nights because the house is so empty and quiet. If I had it my way, I’d be out every Friday night with friends or family.

Although I’m able to relate to Sydney on so many levels, there was one particular thing that I couldn’t – and it’s largely because my parents listen to me and trust my judgements in people (Thank heavens!)  Sydney never outright told her parents how she felt uncomfortable around Ames ( I would’ve told them straight up or left the house every time he was there). I don’t know how she kept her sanity; I can’t imagine feeling unsafe or terrified of the people living in my own home.

To conclude, please do yourself a favour and read this. Sarah Dessen is a saint for writing this spectacular book and I can’t wait for Once and for All! 

5 STARS

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