First book on my #SarahDessenMarathon this month! I pre-ordered in December from Amazon and I received it on Thursday, May 7th. Those of you who follow my instagram know that I have absolutely no self control, but it’s okay because it’s my favorite author and might as well go a little crazy when her new book comes out. Here is the Goodreads synopsis:
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.
For starters, the cover of this book is beautiful. Physically, the cover is nice to the touch as well. When this novel was announced, I read the above synopsis, followed Dessen’s instagram religiously hoping to see the cover. The cover and title are interesting. Just from the title, cover art, and synopsis, I really couldn’t make a connection between the three – not until I read the book that is.
If you’ve read my About Me page, you’d know that Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors, meaning I’ll read anything by her since it’s a guarantee good book (at least in my eyes). Saint Anything focuses on Sydney, the invisible girl. Hidden by her brother’s constant spotlight, even during the worst of times, Sydney is haunted by her brother’s drunk driving accident. She switches schools and discovers people notice her – they don’t know about her brother or his history with the law, and they want to get to know her. Her friends, Layla, Mac, and Irv are individually unique characters you can’t help but fall in love with. Mac especially is nothing “special” per se, but yet you catch yourself swooning for him constantly.
The thing about Dessen novels is that the story always seem to center around a particular business – you’ll see the connections as I continue the #SarahDessenMarathon this month! For Saint Anything, we’re centered at Seaside Pizza. Holy mother-lode my mouth was watering every time food was mentioned – pizza is one of my main food groups after all… just kidding, but I really do love pizza! Layla also had this thing about french fries and seasonings and ketchups. I had to stop reading several times because I was so hungry!
There was a lot of head butting between Sydney and her parents, particularly her mother, throughout the entire book. I, myself felt as though I was fighting a losing battle when it came to Sydney’s mom’s stubbornness. It wasn’t just teen angst – Sydney was finally out of her big brother’s shadow and her mom wanted to keep her in a bubble of protection, so she wouldn’t end up like her brother. I said several choice words aloud while reading aloud because I was so frustrated with Sydney’s parents – like hello, you have another child that actually has her life together, no need to be a control freak! Plus, Sydney’s mom was so dramatic when it came to Peyton and making sure Sydney went along with everything. Sorry Mrs. Stanford, but this isn’t the PTA, it’s prison, and your son nearly killed someone, learn to deal with it without letting your daughter go invisible. Also, Sydney’s parents were kind of oblivious about things that were right in front of their face, like Ames.
Ames, Peyton’s best friend, was downright creepy. From the first chapter where he was introduced during the court scene, I had a strange feeling about him in the pit of my stomach. First, I thought he was just Sydney’s overprotective brother/cousin/boyfriend. Once I learned Ames was not related to Sydney in any way and was not a boyfriend, the feeling in my gut got worse every time he made an appearance. Something just seemed off about him – I sensed it, Sydney and her friends sensed it, but Sydney’s parents basically worshiped him as Peyton’s savior and a wonderful gift to the family. Just reading Ames’s name now gives me the creeps.
Sydney grows so much throughout the novel and proves that there is no such thing as a perfect life, but even during the imperfect times we don’t need to be invisible; have a voice, because you never knew what was ahead of you. The future isn’t written in stone and can change at any moment, don’t freak out, everything will work out in the end. What’s life without a few obstacles and discoveries? You may stumble upon things wondrous and foreign or simply life-changing. You may even stumble upon a carousel. The future’s your’s, so do what you will and make the change. Do something exciting. Fall in love. Eat the trifecta of french fries. Be yourself. And don’t let anyone quiet your voice, because only you know how you feel.
I am excited to continue my #SarahDessenMarathon, but I am going to slip in a non-Sarah-Dessen book (the blasphemy!). Ian Thomas Malone just emailed me the ARC of his new book Five More College Dialogues, and I thought it would be best to read it immediately since I really want to read it! After I finish it, I promise I will continue my #SarahDessenMarathon! Happy reading lovelies!