A Year of Sarah Dessen | Saint Anything

A Year of Sarah Dessen

It’s back at it with A Year of Sarah Dessen. This is shaping up to be quite the YA year for me, as I seem to keep adding more and more YA books to my to be read pile and review schedule. Does reading Sarah Dessen have anything to do with it? I can’t say for certain, but her books sure don’t make me want to turn away from YA! These books are filled with emotion and make me want to relive parts of my own teenage years. I’m enjoying every moment of them!

Saint AnythingSaint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: May 5th, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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 m235ultiple 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.

Angie’s Review – 4 Skulls – B

Saint Anything was a bit of a departure from the first two Sarah Dessen books I read. It was a much heavier read, and unlike the first two, it was hard to find hope in this story. If you’ve read any of the reviews for this book, then you probably already know that Sydney’s mother was not a fan favorite. It’s because of her I originally rated this book a three, but after a second read, I bumped it up to four. Sydney’s mother frustrated me to no end. She smothered Sydney, and it eventually catapulted into straight out controlling Sydney’s life. I found the fact that she overwhelmed the story to such a degree disconcerting, but on my second read, I wasn’t convinced that it wasn’t supposed to be that way. If I, as the reader found Sydney’s mother to be so overwhelming, how must Sydney feel? The author did a nice job conveying just how overpowering her mother could be.

I liked Sydney’s character. There were times when, like her mother, she frustrated me. But in the opposite way. I wish Sydney had tried to advocate for herself more. I can understand why she didn’t. Aside from the teenage issues most of us experience, she was carrying an immense amount of guilt for her brother’s part in the accident that changed not only their family, but the young man he’d hit and his family. It was a constant struggle for her as she listened to her mother always jumping to her brother’s defense, but knowing what he did was wrong. The silver lining in the story was the fact that when Sydney transferred from a private school to a public one because of her parent’s legal fees, she met the Chathams. They took her under their wing, and it was Layla and Mac, the brother and sister her age, who she really bonded with. I thought the Chathams were a great addition to the story; they were the kind of people Sydney needed in her life. They listened to her and saw how her brother’s actions affected her. I would say my only gripe with them was that despite the fact that their mother had multiple sclerosis and their sister was a recovering drug addict, they almost felt too perfect. I adored Mac. I thought he was a good role model for everyone around him simply by leading by example. He was a great friend to Sydney, and I like the way their relationship progressed. It never felt forced to me, just two friends slowing evolving into more. His bandmates cracked me up and definitely showed the reader how patient he was. Layla was a good friend to Sydney – until she wasn’t. I thought it was too bad that she was so self-involved at a point when Sydney really needed her, and I wish she’d made an effort to get over her issues and reach out to her friend. Aside from the situation with her mother, there was Ames, the creepy guy living with them. It was a testament to how consumed Sydney’s mother was with her brother that she didn’t see how uncomfortable her daughter was around Ames. This was another situation where I wish Sydney had spoken up for herself, but again, I understand why she didn’t. It was overwhelming and hard for her put into words. There’s a lot of resentment on Sydney’s part toward her brother, but I liked the way that all played out. They had more in common than they knew, and Sydney realized she hadn’t thought a lot about how her brother might be feeling.

I thought the end of this one was a bit rushed and anti-climactic. It ended on the precipice of a very pivotal moment for Sydney’s character that I think the reader should have witnessed, and on top of that, I’m not sure I liked where it was going. I know it was something Sydney needed for closure, but I’m not convinced it was best for all involved. Having said that, there were some spectacular moments in Saint Anything, and I did enjoy it. I’m excited for my next Sarah Dessen read!

Just like the others I’ve read, this one was an audio read for me. I liked the narrator for this one. At first I thought it was very slow (the narrator, not the story,) but that’s not unusual for me. Once I kicked the speed up to 1.5, it was much better!

Rating: 4 Stars

This is my tentative reading order for my year reading Sarah Dessen. If there’s a book you think should be added to the list or one that is so spectacular it should be moved up, feel free to let me know in the comments below!

1. Just Listen – March 2016 checkmark
2. Lock and Key – April 2016 checkmark
3. Saint Anything – May 2016 checkmark
4. The Truth About Forever – June 2016
5. Dreamland – July 2016
6. Someone Like You – August 2016
7. This Lullaby – September 2016
8. Along for the Ride – October 2016
9. That Summer – November 2016
10. The Moon and More – December 2016
11. Keeping the Moon – January 2017
12. What Happened to Goodbye – February 2017

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