Update 5/5/15: I do have a review now if you’re interested!
After discussing Sarah Dessen books with a few other wordpress bloggers, I decided I needed to read my Saint Anything preview (via Netgalley) that I’ve had on my kindle.
– SPOILER free –
In Saint Anything, Sydney has always been outshined by her fearless and insurgent brother, Peyton. He had the looks, charms, and attention, and everyone loved him. Whereas, she was always the invisible child. Despite their differences, both siblings were always close. But after entering high school, Peyton’s popularity rises and he begins to change. Sydney soon realizes that her brother’s recent shop lifting excursions and pot-smoking hangouts are not only one-time experiments but rather growing habits. Then her brother finds himself in more trouble after a drunk driving accident that affects everyone in the family. Sydney soon decides to start anew at a public school. And in the process of driving home from school one day, she discovers a pizza parlor, Seaside Pizza. Sydney has always accepted her quiet and boring life, but she can’t help but be intrigued by the people at the pizza place.
What I loved about this book is that Dessen doesn’t waste any time and jumps right into the plot. Sydney is already sitting with her parents at the hearing for her brother, and the family is awaiting the verdict. As she waits, Sydney begins to zone out and Dessen uses this chance to make a quick introduction of Peyton’s life though Sydney’s perspective, which allows the readers to understand her inferiority complex and reclusive mannerism better. Killing two birds with one stone, she cleverly explains both characters quickly and keeps the reader’s interest.
The only complaint I have, not so much for the book, but rather for the author is the obvious formula she’s made over the years. I usually find that a lot of the Dessen books are really similar in terms of character and plot. Usually there’s a reclusive girl, a splash of family problems, some insecurities found in the quiet protagonist, a nice and protective boy eventually rolls along, and said boy helps the main protagonist with her journey of finding herself. Even though I have seen this pattern so many times in Dessen’s books, I still can’t help but want to get a hold of the next one as it’s released.
So, I think what makes readers continue to read Dessen’s books is that they’re fun and light. Even though they sometime lack in originality, Dessen makes up for it with her writing style and voice, which fits well with her young heroines. And the best thing, her novels are very realistic. All of them have character development and conclude with some resolution. Another cool thing about her books is that there are often guest appearances of other characters/places/towns from her other books. These details compels you to read all the Dessen novels even though you know they’re all going to wind up being similar.
Anyway, out of all her novels thus far, I have to admit Saint Anything has a unique start. I’m excited to see how Dessen makes this one different. Perhaps this will be her breakthrough novel we’ve been waiting for.