Published by Viking Juvenile on May 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
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.
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!!
fans 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
Saint 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.
* 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?
PLEASE TELL ME YOUR FAVORITE DESSEN NOVEL IF YOU HAVE READ HER BOOKS!