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Saint Anything Hardcover – May 5, 2015

4.6 out of 5 stars 348 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up—Sixteen-year-old Sydney has always felt overshadowed by her handsome, popular, and troubled older brother Peyton. Now, he is in prison for a drunk driving accident that paralyzed another teen boy, and despite his incarceration, Sydney finds her mother's only focus is Peyton and that her dad has pretty much checked out of any decision making. When Sydney decides to leave her expensive private school and go to the local public school, her parents agree to allow the change. After her first day of school, she stops by a pizza shop where she meets brother and sister Layla and Mac, whose father owns the shop. In the duo, Sydney finds much needed acceptance. In their mother, she discovers a person she can talk to who will listen and give her the advice she craves. Dessen delves deeply into family relationships and roles. Because of Peyton's actions, Sydney's family is unable to handle what has happened. Layla and Mac's family also has its problems with a wayward daughter and an ill mother, but instead of being torn apart, they have drawn closer together. The contrast between the two families—economically and in their ability to function—provides added tension. Although this work is darker than her other romances, the light and joy of first love, friendship, and self-discovery remain important aspects of the book. VERDICT Taut, tightly structured with well-rounded characters, this novel is sure to please Dessen's many fans and attract new ones.—Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas


Praise for Saint Anything:

-A New York Times bestseller
-Kids' Indie Next List Pick (Summer 2015)
- A TIME's Top 10 YA Book of the Year

"Saint Anything is a poignant, honest story about how we might suffer the misfortune of someone else's bad choices, how people who love us can become family when we desperately need it, and how starting over might - miraculously - mean taking a solid leap forward.  Is there anyone who can write about what matters most to teens as well as Dessen can?  I sincerely doubt it." —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling novelist of Leaving Time and My Sister’s Keeper

"A quiet marvel" —LA Times

"The novel’s strengths — how it unpacks the perplexities of guilt, friendships, and family dynamics — are what readers will remember." —Boston Globe

* "Dessen delves deeper than ever into the complex dynamics of families suffering loss and confronting changes that upend everything. Once again, Dessen demonstrates her tremendous skill in evoking powerful emotions through careful, quiet prose, while delivering a satisfying romance. The author’s many devotees are sure to enjoy this weighty addition to her canon." —Publishers Weeklystarred review

"Taut, tightly structured with well-rounded characters, this novel is sure to please Dessen’s many fans and attract new ones." —School Library Journal

"A rich emotional landscape . . . A many-layered story told with a light touch." —Kirkus

"Another incisive and sensitive character-driven story sure to please her many, many fans." —Booklist

"Sarah Dessen is the patron saint of realistic romance. . . we think Saint Anything might be one of her best ever." —Justine Magazine

"In Saint Anything, Dessen gives readers a sensitive and touching look at how loss can affect a family and the importance of finding those who support you, no matter what." —Bookish
"Saint Anything may seem like a quiet read at first, but remember what is said about still waters. What begins as a somber story, carefully narrated by a polite young woman, builds to a gripping and unexpected climax and a satisfying conclusion." —NY Journal of Books
"Clearly any new release from the queen of YA romance is going to be huge. But Saint Anything is exciting in its own right, focusing on the complicated bonds of family, particularly in the wake of tragedy and misfortune." —Bustle
"A heartfelt, appealing story." —RT Book Reviews

"We love anything Sarah Dessen pens. . . [Saint Anything] explores how sometimes starting over is the best way to move forward." —Glitter Magazine

"Dessen is a superstar of young adult literature, and Saint Anything (about finding friendship and finding yourself) has delighted (and added to) her legions of fans." —News & Observer
"Dessen’s characters are so vividly created—their actions and emotions so genuinely authentic—that it almost seems that Dessen has a psychological advantage in understanding our human condition." —Heroes & Heartbreakers

Praise for Sarah Dessen:

"Sarah Dessen is something of a rock star in young adult fiction. Her bestselling coming-of-age novels are warmly written explorations of teens in transition that are, by turns, questioning, humorous and hopeful." —Los Angeles Times

"Dessen is as skilled as ever at turning out steady, satisfying stories about teens that are easy to fall for." —Publishers Weekly, starred review for The Moon and More

"Readers can count of Dessen; she's a pro at creating characters caught at a nexus of change, who have broken relationships and who need to make decisions. . . Readers will enjoy every minute they spend with her." —Kirkus Reviews on What Happened to Goodbye

"Realistic teen dialogue, authentic girl friendships, and a complex underlying question: Can people really change?" —Kirkus Reviews on Along for the Ride

"Good story, real characters, happy ending. . . another must-read." —VOYA on Lock and Key

"The romance which forms the core of the story is everything a romance should be." —Horn Book on Just Listen


Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 0690 (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (May 5, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451474708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451474704
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (348 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've read almost every Sarah Dessen book and this one has to be one of my favorites! It was absolutely beautiful!

Sydney has always felt like she was in her older brother's shadow, but for the past few years her brother has been in and out of holding cells and escorted home by officers. Then her brother drives drunk and hits a teenager on a bike, paralyzing him for life. Now Sydney is known as the girl with the brother in jail. Sydney decides to move to a new school, away from the whispers, and ends up becoming friends with a girl, Layla, whose family works in a pizza shop. She gets introduced to Layla's brother and Layla's friends and Sydney begins to feel happy again. But her parents are too preoccupied to notice anything but Sydney's brother.

What I love so much about this book is how much depth is within it. This book has the usual coming of age tale that I expect from Sarah Dessen, but there's so much more to it. It has a strong aspect of family. Sydney's parents, especially her mom, become very controlling of Sydney in this book, as if she is her brother. They also see Peyton, Sydney's brother, as a victim and even act as if Peyton is away at school, not in jail. It is very infuriating the way they treat Sydney, but it's very realistic.

Sydney begins to live outside her brother's shadow. She's at a school where no one knows her brother's past and she has friends that like hanging out with her. It's hard for Sydney to have a life like this because of her parents who always seemed like they liked Peyton more, especially now. We really get into Sydney's life and point of view. Her character is very realistic! She has her flaws, but she's the girl that will always do the right thing and will always be there for her friends.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I haven't been a fan of Dessen's last few books; however, Saint Anything reminded me of an earlier era of Dessen writing, when the stories felt real and authentic, which Saint Anything definitely succeeds in doing. These characters felt alive to me, a far cry from the cardboard cutouts that have populated many of Dessen's recent novels.

I appreciated the fact that the book wasn't driven solely by the love story. Yes, the romance plays a part, but if you take out the romantic lead, I feel like Sydney could still end up where she does in the end. In this sense, I felt that the importance of friendship was highlighted more than romance, which is a breath of relief in YA.

Something that did get on my nerves was the repetitiveness of description. If Dessen had cut out half of the descriptions of Mac's pendant and Layla's fry eating, she would have saved herself a few extra pages of printing. There were also some superfluous scenes, like the party at Jen's and delivering pizzas with Layla, which could have been cut in the editing process and summed up in two or three sentences. (Speaking of which, what was the deal with Jen and Meredith? We get a whole backstory on them, but they are never really part of the plot.) I also felt that the ending came a bit too easy in light of the complexity of relationships and emotions.

Overall though, it's a good summer read and made me nostalgic for some Dessen classics.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Standing in the shadows of anyone is never fun. When that individual is your older brother, a charismatic, good looking, larger than life individual, how can another compete or get a shred of attention for themselves? Sydney has lived her entire life with Peyton as the dominant force in her parent's eyes, especially her mother's. When he began getting into trouble, her folks tried to help him, but he needed to want help in the first place. When he gets behind the wheel of his car, inebriated, and hits a teen boy on a bike, Peyton receives a sentence and is jailed. Now Sydney has to live with the repercussions of his actions as well as his ghost in her life.

Saint Anything is typical Dessen from the quiet girl to the immensely likable secondary characters (here it's an entire family, the Chathams), the budding romance with a guy (Mac) and the journey of self-discovery. It's also one of her darkest toned books in a long time. I will immediately say I was surprised by the amount of telling in the beginning of the story which set-up the premise for Sydney's journey. Peyton's back story did slow down the pace for me, but since I already found Sydney a likable and highly sympathetic character (she calls herself "invisible"), I had to read on. That is what gets me with each and every Dessen book--the voice. The main character may not always be exciting or interesting, but their insight, the way they view the world and convey their feelings to the reader, is what hooks me and what has made me a fan of this author. When I read a Sarah Dessen book I know I will really get to know her MC because she writes such deep portrayals of teen girls. And I usually wind up loving the MC's best friend too.

Sydney changes schools so she can begin over again while Peyton serves his sentence.
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By Jude on February 24, 2016
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

It should be no surprise that I loved this book. I went in knowing that I would, with no doubt of it being amazing. I’ve loved all of Dessen’s books at this point, and she can do no wrong.

This is one of the first books that took me like a week to read, though. Usually they’re done in a day, but sadly work got in my way, over and over again.

This is about Sydney, who’s always felt invisible, especially next to her older brother. He’s always the center of attention, even when he got in trouble. And then he did something really bad, and suddenly Sydney’s getting more attention. She changes schools, distances herself from her friends, and stumbles upon some new ones.

I liked Sydney. I understood her struggle, why she gave into her parents so much and why she wanted to fight them, and why she chose to fight when she did. I understood her feelings of guilt and anger, and I really liked when she finally found people who really saw her and liked her.

Her parents were really frustrating, ignoring her and then trying to decide everything for her. It drove me insane the way her mother acted about what her brother did, but I liked how he finally did something about it, and how that let him and Sydney form a relationship again. They frustrated me so much, but especially because I understand it and know how realistic that is. They’re complex characters, and they did what they thought they should. Then there’s Ames, who is creepy and won’t leave, and finally gets what he deserves, thankfully.

I loved the Chatham’s, and her new friends. They’re definitely a Dessen-made family. Sydney found a very good friend there, Layla, and she also found Mac, who is so sweet. He’s quiet and observant, and he sees Sydney.
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