Book Talk: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Book Talk: Saint Anything by Sarah DessenSaint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Juvenile on May 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: Once and For All
Format: ARC
Source: For Review

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”



Sydney has always felt like she has lived in the shadow of her brother Peyton, the one that got all her parents attention, especially as he started getting into trouble. When Peyton drives drunk and strikes a boy, he’s sent to jail and Sydney’s world is shaken and her parent’s focus is definitely on him now. Sydney decides she wants a fresh start and switches schools so she doesn’t have to be The Girl Whose Brother Hit A Kid While Driving Drunk and feel the guilt and shame that brings with it. As she tries to wrestle with the accident and her relationship with her family, she crosses paths with Layla and Mac, brother & sister, who accept her and bring her into their family when she needs it most.



There is a reason that Sarah Dessen is one of the queens of YA. Well, many reasons. But the one I’m thinking about is that she knows how to do EVERYTHING and do it well. Great characters, crisp and quoteable prose, interesting plots, emotional journeys that bring the feels without ever seeming too much, this astute look into the teenage mind, great adult characters, important relationships with friends and family that feel just as weighty as the romance. I could GO ON AND ON. I will say that this is my favorite Dessen I’ve read so far. It’s so wonderful. SO WONDERFUL. And makes my heart so happy. The more and more I read of her…the more I know she’s definitely an author that will become a go-to.

Two BIG reasons I loved it:

1. Complicated family relationships: Oh man. This one was so good and complicated — just probing into the messy situation of Sydney’s family in which her brother is incarcerated for driving drunk and hitting a young boy. It was a storyline I could honestly relate to in some ways as my cousin drove drunk and ended up killing his best friend. It was horrible and, from my view, Sarah just got so much right when this situation happens. It taps into that feeling of guilt, shame and blame with the conflicting feeling of love and concern so perfectly and from all sides. Sydney has complicated feelings about it — she loves her brother but she doesn’t have the same feelings her mom has in trying to shift the blame and try to act like he isn’t 100% at fault here. She can’t just forgive him and she feels so much guilt over what he did. It puts an even bigger strain on her relationship with her family because as Peyton has been getting in trouble all their focus has been on fixing him. With him in jail, it just makes EVERYTHING about him…even more so than she already felt because Peyton was always the one people were drawn to and who took center stage. I just love how Sarah explored Sydney’s relationship with both her parents AND her brother with such raw emotion.

2. Friendship FEELS!!: Sydney decides to transfer schools after what happens with her brother because she just wants a fresh slate with people who don’t know what happened. She wanders into a pizza shop after school and meets Layla and Mac — an amazing brother and sister duo — who become her friends. FIRST, I love that they bond over food. I feel like a lot of my friendships start out that way. I love the way Sarah gives us a great picture of new friendship and how with that comes a new start but also she doesn’t ignore Sydney’s old best friends and how to navigate not seeing each other at school and the weight of everything that has happened in Sydney’s life recently. I love the group that Mac and Layla bring Sydney into. They just made my heart all aflutter and I WANT LAYLA TO BE MY BESTIE. I though the romance was super cute in this one but the FRIENDSHIP FEELS were where it was at for me. I just love watching new friendships and new friend groups blossom just as much as I do a good romance.



factors+ everything really — writing, MC, family dynamics, friendships, romance, THE FEELS, the compulsive need to read it
–ย  nada

Re-readability: Oh yes.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I did buy one already! I had an ARC but had to get a finished!!

a5fans of Sarah Dessen, people who want just really solid contemporary that balances light and weighty well, people who love friendships just as much as romance in their books, people looking for a read with interesting family dynamics

a8Saint Anything is everything I love about contemporary YA novels and I devoured it. Saint Anything is just such a testament to this amazing career Sarah Dessen has had thus far because it’s SO DAMN EXCELLENT and hits all the right notes because she has this uncanny ability to create stories that just feel REAL and always leave me remembering the important things in life without ever nearing after school special territory. I don’t know, man, Sarah Dessen just feels like one of those people who observes life and spills it out on to the pages in a way that makes you feel like she just GETS IT even though you know she’s one of those people who is honest about still trying to figure her shit out.

review-on-post-itSaint Anything Sarah Dessen review


a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?



The Perpetual Page-Turner

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I actually bought this a day or two after it came out because everyone (especially you) was talking about it and it seemed like something I would love. And I did! I tore through this book.
    What I really loved was how every creepy situation with Ames, especially the first weekend he stays alone with Sydney and Layla comes over, I felt physically creeped out and sick to my stomach. Which is incredible, I have no idea how Sarah did it.
    I also loved Layla and Sydney’s friendship. It’s amazing and I want a friendship like it.
    And, late in the book, how Sydney had her eyes opened about Peyton and how he feels about what happened. I thought that was really cool because you spend a lot of the book not liking him for what he did and because of how Sydney perceived him, but when I read that he was also sick of how their mom acted and that he knew it was all his fault, I started liking him a lot more.

    • AH I am so happy you loved it too! SO HARD TO PUT DOWN.

      Omg and AMES. EW. I felt physically revolted and SO MAD that her parents didn’t see how creepy he was. SO HAPPY HOW THINGS ENDED UP FOR HIM. SEE YA NEVER AMES.

      And same…where can we find a friend like Layla???

      YES. I think that was one of the best parts is how Sydney had this picture of Peyton from their childhood to reconcile with this new Peyton who was in trouble and who her mom was obsessing over and acting like he did no wrong. And it was hard to reconcile very rightly so because he did this awful thing. But it was nice for her to open herself up to how HE might be feeling about it too. I loved how complicated Sarah made it all. GOOD POINT!

      • Oh yeah, I HATED her mom for most of the book until the end. And I was SO ANGRY that her parents didn’t do anything about Ames until they sort of had to see him being creepy in the very end and in that scene where he comes to sit on Sydney’s bed and her mom closes the door. Ugh. I hated him so much. And he was so possessive of her like when she was with Mac! It was so gross!
        But I loved Mac. Mac’s amazing. He might be my new favorite Dessen boy. He and Dave and Owen are tied.

  2. I’ve read two of Sarah Dessen’s books beforeโ€”JUST LISTEN and SOMEONE LIKE YOUโ€”and I absolutely loved the former, so I’ve been wondering what people thought about her newest book. Just from what you mentioned in your review (which was *so* informative, by the way! thank you!), I’ve become more excited about SAINT ANYTHING. Thanks for posting this lovely review, Jamie!

    • Yay I’m glad my review was helpful!! I’ve read a few Sarah books but not all and it seems like this one is getting rave reviews from old and new fans alike! I hope you will love it!!

  3. EEK, I can’t WAIT to read this one! I read Dreamland and The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen 2 to 3 years ago and I really didn’t enjoy them, but I’d heard such good things about her books so I thought I’d try another book of hers, so I read This Lullaby and I LOVED it! Then I read Lock & Key and I loved it even more and then I read What Happened to Goodbye and I loved it even MORE! ๐Ÿ˜€ So I’d probably say my favorites are Lock & Key and What Happened to Goodbye – I just can’t choose between them!

    I also love that this book deals with something different regarding the situation in her family and also that friendship is one of the main focuses instead of just romance. WONDERFUL review, Jamie! <3

    • The good news is….those two seem to be the two books that even big Dessen fans like the LEAST…so it’s all up from here hopefully for you and her other books!!!

      LOCK & KEY <333 Jamie and Cora, man. I loved them.

      YES I think Sarah is so good at incorporating all the important things in your life -- family, friends and romance.

  4. Okay, yes. LOVED THIS BOOK. The Truth About Forever has always been my favorite but I was really pleasantly surprised to find that this one is right up there with it! Layla is the best and I absolutely love her relationship with Mac and what her relationships with her parents turn into. SO GOOD.

  5. I loved Saint Anything as well! I read “Someone Like You” when I was in middle school but for some reason had not read Dessen since. Now at 30 years old, picking up her new release was like deja vu in the best possible way ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Do you think you’ll go through and read more of hers?? I really loved Lock & Key recently. So many of my friends read Dessen early and I feel like now, at almost 30, I am also just discovering her books. I had read like one years and years ago but that was it.

  6. I’ve been reading Sarah Dessen’s novels for the last 10 years and I’ve enjoyed every single book of hers, although some more than others. So I really liked this one, as well, (because how can you not with Dessen?) however it isn’t my all-time favorite. I’m not sure why exactly because I find Sydney easily relatable, along with that feeling of being invisible and all the friendship aspects. But it just didn’t hit me the way some of my absolute, still favorites, have. If I ranked her books it would probably be somwhere in the middle, like number six, so not favorite but definitley not the worst. But I just wanted to give you my top 4 favorite Dessen novels (in no particular order because it is always changing) since you haven’t read all of her stuff. Definitely read these if you haven’t!

    1. The Truth About Forever: I think this has the best overall story of all her books
    2. This Lullaby: I think this is the best romance of all her books
    3. Along for the Ride: This has my most favorite character of all her books, Auden
    4. Just Listen: This has the best quotes, in my opinion (although, lets be honest all her books are filled with quotable quotes that I write on a post it and stick up on my bulletin board)

    Also, I really like your website, by the way! I’m a first-timer to it ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Oooh thanks for hitting me with your faves! I think Truth About Forever will be my next!!

      And thanks for visiting <33 Hope I'll see you around again sometime soon!! Also, as a Sarah Dessen fan...have you read any Emery Lord? I keep reccing her books to people I know who love Sarah! Also, Jessi Kirby!

  7. I’m glad you found a new favorite Sarah Dessen book!!! I have always loved her stuff, but the last few of hers weren’t my ultimate faves, so I’m hoping this one will fit with me like Lock & Key, Just Listen, and This Lullaby. Either way it will be nice to read a new book by her after so long ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I feel like a lot of people who love Dessen didn’t love her last one! This one seems to be resonating with people who didn’t love the last one!

  8. I have not read this yet, but I’m so excited! And your review is fantastic and now I want to read it even more! I’ve read quite a few Sarah Dessen books, but not all unfortunately (which I have to fix soon!). So far though, I think the one I enjoyed the most has to be Just Listen. But honestly, all of her books and characters are beyond fab! Can’t wait to read this one!

    -Grace ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Aw thank you <3 I'm glad you find my review helpful! And I'm with you...I'm trying to get to all of them! I have read Just that one!

  9. Katrina says:

    I. Loved. This. Book. It combined so many of my favorite elements that a book can have,
    1. Cutsey Romance, which a love interest I adored ( can I have myself a Mac? please and thank you)
    2. Legal Aspects- I am super interested in the legal system so any book that touches on it makes me happy.
    3. Friendship, and realistic ones at this. It showed the ups and downs beautifully.
    4.Humor- Im pretty sure I laughed out loud at a couple of points.
    5. Sarah Dessen. Need I say more?

    So needless to say I am so glad I read this. It was back to Classic Sarah Dessen and Im glad because her last book wasnt a favorite of mine, but this one was fantastic.

    • I KNOWWWW…Mac was so great!!! And that’s such an interesting point to bring up…the legal aspects. You really don’t see that kind of stuff in a lot of YA. It was kind of refreshing…especially with incarceration. I rarely see that.

  10. I loved this one! And I definitely had to get pizza the night I finished it. My favorite Dessen is still The Truth About Forever, but I think this one and Along for the Ride tie for second. Dessen really nails contemporary fiction.

  11. I loved Saint Anything! It’s been a long time since I’ve read a Dessen, but diving back into her stuff with this novel was a GREAT idea. I fell in love with Sydney’s story, with her friends too, and I loved watching it all play out. It’s definitely got that Dessen magic to it ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Sarah Dessen’s books have been mostly a miss for me, but when I heard about this one, I got excited because I love the dark contemporaries. I actually just finished it earlier today and I have to say it was my favorite Sarah Dessen book!

    While writing the review, I spent a CHUNK of time on creepy Ames. Discussing his creepiness and how important it was that girls, especially young girls see this and realize that it’s okay to feel creeped out by someone and not to ignore the feeling.

    But Mac & Sydney? YESSSSSS!

    Oh and I desperately wanted pizza & fries the entire time I was reading it.