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Saint Anything Hardcover – May 5, 2015
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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 Weekly, starred 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
Top customer reviews
I mentioned the drama present in her books earlier…but I think I should go further and say that it’s a subtle drama. I think that’s one of the things I like the most about Sarah Dessen books. They’re real life. Each of them has situations that could happen to any of us. There aren’t really huge dramatic events in the books. It’s more just everyday life. In fact, in Saint Anything, the real drama happens before the first page. It focuses instead on how people react to hard situations and how people grow from them. To some, that may not be exciting, but I love to see her characters grow.
Moving on, I LOVE her characters. If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’d know how important well-rounded characters are to me. And Sarah Dessen builds these verrrry relatable characters and I just want to be their best friends. All of them. The main character in this novel, Sydney, is very relatable because she’s more of the stand-back-and-observe type of person that I think a lot of us are, including myself. We take everything in, we have opinions, we just don’t always proclaim those to the world. But when we find a group of people and become close to them, that barrier falls. Here’s a quote I noted from the book: “You only really fall apart in front of the people you know can piece you back together.” It’s so true. In this story, Sydney finds that group of people and I just want to hug her and help her pick up those pieces, too.
Another thing I loved about this book is the subtle romance. I read a review on Goodreads where a person was just completely taken off guard when the romance finally took off…but I think they didn’t see it coming because Dessen gave very subtle but realistic hints toward what was going to happen. Like instead of the main character having a massive inner dialogue about her feelings toward this boy, or instead of her having a heart-to-heart and spilling her guts to her best friend or something, there’s a blush here and a lingering look there eventually lead beautifully into the famous romances that Dessen is known for. I loved those subtle moments and maybe that’s because I think the romantic tension between people when they both start to like each other but haven’t talked about IS THE BEST (This is why season 3 of Parks & Rec will always be my favorite). But, hey, that’s just me and I can see why some people would think that this is slow and just not like it.
Overall, if you’ve liked Sarah Dessen’s other books, you’ll love this one. The Truth About Forever was my favorite of her’s but I think Saint Anything is now a major contender for that title. If you’re not a Sarah Dessen fan, this may not be for you because it’s very much the same style as her other books. AND if you’ve never read any Sarah Dessen (*gaaasp*), try it. See if you like it. And then let me know!
Was looking forward to diving into this novel over the summer while on vacation. Usually Sarah Dessen novels are pretty good, but this one I actually found myself pushing through just because I bought it and didn't want to waste the money spent. Overall, I think the characters were flat, the plot also lacked depth, and I kept turning the pages waiting for SOMETHING to happen, but it never really did until the end, and once it did, I wasn't sure what to make of it, as neither did the author, it seems. In stories lacking any real meaningful action and events throughout, you would think time would be spent building the characters, but instead what it was was a lot of filler. It's as if Ms. Dessen just wanted to create another book, and out this came, without any time or care put into the storyline. Also, being a YA novel, I would have liked to see the protagonist with a louder voice and a greater sense of agency. Sexual assault was almost minimized in favor of a plot line favoring a budding romance. Not a good message to send to young readers, in my opinion. Overall, I won't be buying anymore of Dessen's books in the future, but if one were sitting on a coffee table at a doctor's office, I'd probably pick it up to kill time.
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. He’s exactly what Sydney needs, and I really enjoyed their friendship and then romance as it grew. I liked how it was subtle and slow, but apparent and then so important to them both.
I love the balance that Dessen creates. There’s friendship, there’s family struggles and attention, there’s romance, there’s finding out who you really are among all these things.
I don’t know if this one stands out the most of her books, as I definitely have favorites, but it’s definitely worth it, and it will be one I’ll re-read. I loved it, like I love all of her books. And I will be waiting eagerly for her next one.
[More of my reviews are available on my blog, Geeky Reading, to which there's a link on my profile.]
Most recent customer reviews
In my last review of a Sarah Dessen novel, I said that Sarah Dessen writes Hallmark movie novels.Read more