Published by Viking on May 5, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
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.
The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.
Ah. I just spent the last day and a half reading Saint Anything and practically doing nothing else. My priorities are pretty straight, if I do say so myself. This is Sarah Dessen’s long-awaited new book and it has all the classic Dessen elements: friendship, family, cute and sweet boys, aaaaand drama.
First, though, I have to talk about this: I met Sarah Dessen! I read Just Listen by her in 7th grade and have loved her ever since. Here I am eight years later and just as much of a fangirl. She came to Indianapolis and my friend and I drove down to see her. She kept the Q&A short so she could fly home for Mother’s Day but I learned that she’s just as hilarious and awesome as I would have guessed from her books. Here are some things that I took note of (mostly because they were quirky):
- She claims she likes to drop John Green’s name at every signing event…so watch out for that if you ever go. She also said she was worried no one would be at the event since she was in John Green Territory (he’s from Indiana)…Don’t worry. It was a full house. I didn’t even get a seat 😮
- She highly recommends a show called Broadchurch (first season on Netflix!). I’ve never seen it before though so don’t blame me if it’s terrible and/or if you get sucked into a mega binge sesh.
- She claims this book, Saint Anything, is the hardest book she’s ever worked on. She wrote constantly trying to make it perfection and she described it as pouring her whole heart into it. This made me so incredibly excited to finally start reading.
- She also gave some tips for aspiring writers: (1) Read always. (2) Have discipline. (3) There’s a lot to be said about showing up and doing the work. She knows many people who could write lines that could bring you to tears but are not able to finish a complete project. (4) There are no hard and fast rules to writing. You kind of just have to figure out what works for you.
- “I’m not good at many things. Writing is one. And I’m sort of good at making deviled eggs. That’s my other thing.” lol
- She grew up working at a restaurant called the Flying Burrito which made me laugh out loud because I immediately thought of this:
So, the event was wonderful! And lucky for you guys, Sarah signed an extra copy of Saint Anything JUST FOR YOU. Read my review and then enter to win!
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!