Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

71gc13Jc13LSaint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking on May 5, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Pages: 417
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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Rerated: 3 Stars
4 Stars, Completed May 2, 2015

– SPOILER free –

For the past couple of years I haven’t been buying books unless they’ve been marginally cut down in price, but, after reading the preview for Saint Anything back in early March, I knew I had to grab this one upon release. Rarely do I do this anymore due to my buying books full price ban, but I was browsing the teen section at my local bookstore a few days ago and by some miracle I saw a prereleased copy. Naturally, without thinking I grabbed the book and ran, giddy, to the register (not an impulse buy at all), and from there I began my journey of devouring this book in less than a day.

In Saint Anything, Sydney has always been left unnoticed and her brother, Peyton, has received the attention because of his strikingly good looks and natural charm. And Sydney doesn’t seem to mind or blame her brother for her invisibility. However, this all changes when Peyton’s popularity rises and he begins to participate in illegal activities. After some temporary rehab and counseling, Sydney’s parents believes Peyton’s bout of recklessness is cured until the police notify them of his arrest. And so, the readers are sent to where the book begins in the courtroom, where Sydney and her family are waiting to hear her brother’s sentence for driving under the influence of alcohol, creating an accident, and consequently causing a teenage boy to become permanently paralyzed. With these tumultuous events, everyone, especially Sydney’s mom, views Peyton as the victim, and Sydney can’t help but feel obligated to feel guilty towards the paralyzed boy and his family. With her brother’s actions to haunt her, Sydney soon decides to start anew at a public school. And one day, driving home from school, she discovers Seaside, a pizza parlor, where she meets the Chathams, a warm but chaotic family. As she’s just making new friends and adjusting to this new life, her mother begins to take interest and monitor Sydney’s every step, in fear of her becoming like Peyton. And for once, Sydney wishes she could escape the limelight she once admired her brother for.

I’ve come to realize that I should let go of my high hopes of Sarah Dessen creating a book that rivals the story of The Truth About Forever, my absolute favorite by her. So with this book, I didn’t have any TAF or even Just Listen expectations, but instead anticipated a great Sarah Dessen novel. So I wasn’t disappointed at all. This book was different and introduced unique themes that haven’t been present in Dessen’s previous work (I’ve read all of them but The Moon and More and Dreamland). It also still showcased Dessen’s usual, beautiful style. The writing was simple, but well written and almost lyrical. The plot remained unpredictable and intriguing, and Dessen still managed to make small mundane things appear not so ordinary and important for the protagonist’s character development. Each character was relatable and realistic, but also possessed distinct and quirky qualities Dessen’s known to create in her characters. And as crazy as it sounds, it was refreshing to have Ames, a super creepy guy that added to the subplot. I also really enjoyed the Chathams’ unspoken loyalty towards one another and found the role of Sydney’s new and old friends to be touching and realistic. The main love interest and guy was flawed but, no different from the other Dessen novels, he understood and healed the protagonist in a way no one else could in the story. And, of course, the ending wrapped up nicely but also left some food for thought as to what’s in store for Sydney in the future. And speaking of food, the  references to food in this one was divine. I’ve been vegetarian for a little over 5 years and I do tend to eat healthy, but I can’t deny my love for French fries. And there are plenty of fries in this. And other greasy yumminess.

However, despite all the usual Dessen elements present and my obvious enjoyment, this book didn’t deserve 5 stars for a few reasons. Putting aside that it wasn’t exactly TAF perfection, it also wasn’t a book that left me speechless because the writing and ideas resonated within me. There weren’t as many inspiring or life-changing quotes in comparison to other Dessen novels. Another thing I was a bit disappointed in was Mac’s role. And even though I liked Mac, I also thought his character lacked depth. He was a supportive figure for Sydney and a guy that made all the fictional girls sa-woon, but the reader never really understands his story, except for the backbone of why he eats so healthy. His character just wasn’t that dynamic, therefore making the relationship not really special in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, Dessen never writes about an all-consuming love story anyway. And I’m aware that she’s writing about young teenage girls falling in love for the first time but I just expected more from Mac’s character and Sydney’s relationship with him. And probably the main reason why I shaved a star off the rating was because of the parental roles. Dessen’s known to feature divorce and the absence of parental guidance in her books, but Sydney’s parents really bothered me. Sydney’s mom probably could’ve won the most controlling and obsessive mother of the year award in this book. While Sydney’s father literally did nothing for her, the family, or the book. There may as well not have been a father role in Saint Anything for how little his character contributed to the story. And more often than not did I find myself in frustration for the parents’ blindness toward certain situations.

Even though Saint Anything isn’t worthy of making top tier with The Truth About Forever and Just Listen, it probably is one of the better Dessen books for its uniqueness along with Along For the Ride and This Lullaby. Roughly every summer when a new Sarah Dessen novel is released I always read it. I’m glad I didn’t sway from my usual summer routine this year. Saint Anything left me content and wonder why I don’t read more wonderful ya contemporary. I definitely recommend this to returning Dessen readers, but suggest new readers to start with The Truth About Forever and Just Listen before this one to get the full Dessen experience.


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48 thoughts on “Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

  1. mylittleemo says:

    Oh my gosh I’m so jealous that you got a prereleased copy! It’s great to hear that it’s probably on the same level as some of her more unique books because I honestly didn’t really like The Moon and More. I found the released chapters really cute and I can’t wait until I can get my hands on a copy at the library!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Erika says:

    I honestly believe that any new books that Sarah Dessen writes now, it will never be able to trump The Truth About Forever, though that’s just my personal opinion. I’ve read almost all of her books and to this day it still remains my favorite and always deserving a re-read not once but multiple times. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Trisha Ann says:

    Would you suggest reading Sarah Dessen’s “lesser books” first before The Truth About Forever? Like saving the best for last haha 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • sumlynnnguyen says:

      I never thought about it like that… I think that only works for food though (and certain authors, I suppose). 😛 If you start with her worse ones, you may be completely turned off by her writing like some other readers. I love her and a lot of her books are great like I’ve been telling you but some aren’t that awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. lilypup says:

    I came over from Community Pool. I think your book review was excellent, however, I would try to make it a bit more concise. I think it is important to leave the readers wanting more. You have a great look and color to your blog. Great job. lily

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Kris Blanche says:

    I love finding other Sarah Dessen fans! I got the ARC of this, but I intend to buy it when it releases in the Australian covers so it matches my set. First book I read of hers was Just Listen! Then I read Dreamland. I remember being really moved by it, but I honestly can’t remember if it’s considered “amazing” or if I just resonated with it a lot. I didn’t really the The Moon and More. But guess what you’ve got me rereading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • sumlynnnguyen says:

      Me too, it’s nice to meet you! 😀 I have a copy of Dreamland, so I’ll make sure to read it this summer. As for The Moon and More, I think I’ll leave it on the backburner for now. And yes, everyone knows that I love TAF. 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting, Kris!

      Like

  6. kandylandmom says:

    I like reading YA genre even though I’m a 40-something momma. It allows me to escape for a little while after the kids go to bed. I will definitely have to put Dressen on my TBR list. Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sumlynnnguyen says:

      Hi! Reading really does allow us to escape reality and use our imaginations, which is awesome and well-needed. Yes, add a couple of her books on your TBR. I hope you like them! Thank you for reading and commenting! 🙂

      Like

  7. Thuong Le says:

    Great review! Glad to hear you enjoyed it. Looking forward to reading this one sometime soon 🙂 I love bookstores but rarely buy books full price because I know it would be cheaper on amazon 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • sumlynnnguyen says:

      My point exactly! Even ordering online on the online website for my local bookstore is cheaper than the inventory they have in store. Bizarre, huh? And yes, Sarah Dessen needs to make your list of summer reads this year. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thuong Le says:

        Very bizarre. If its half price on the website, then it should still be half price in store! Thats why I just stick to online. Yes, as soon as I get through my goodreads TBR list, Sarah Dessen and Stephen King books are next on the reading agenda 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • sumlynnnguyen says:

          Sarah Dessen and Stephen King? I never thought I’d hear a sentence with them together, haha. 😄 But yes, online shopping and shipping is also so convenient. Who would pass up getting books without having to drive (I’m a total homebody and too lazy to drive)?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thuong Le says:

            Haha, well I’ve been wanting to read a Stephen King book for a very long time because my friend is a massive fan! I’ve been putting it off for so long because I’m a wimp lol. And you’ve convinced me to read a Sarah Dessen book, so I sort of had to use them both in a sentence 😄 I know, completely different authors and different genres! I agree with you, I am willing to wait for a book to arrive in the post, without having to travel to my nearest Waterstones 🙂 x

            Liked by 1 person

            • sumlynnnguyen says:

              I haven’t read any Stephen King, but I’ve heard he has some mad imagery going on in his books. Not to mention, a crazy imagination. Do tell me how that goes! And recommend me one of his less scary novels when you’re more acquainted with his work. Who’s the wimp now? 😛

              Liked by 1 person

              • Thuong Le says:

                Guess we’re both wimps then lol I’ll let you know 😉 I know right! Especially with Misery – haven’t read it but hear it was very gorey! I was going to start with the Shining (scary classic!) but my friend recommended Rose Madder because it has a bit of romance and fantasy in it. Apparently, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is his least scariest work – maybe you’d like to check that one out? 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

                • sumlynnnguyen says:

                  Thanks for the suggestion, I’ve added the Gordon one onto my goodreads TBR! Like for all your suggestions, I’m not sure when I’ll get to it but I will someday. 😉 Have fun with Stephen King and Sarah Dessen! (It still feels weird pairing them up together in a sentence.) 😄

                  Liked by 1 person

    • sumlynnnguyen says:

      You must, it was so enjoyable! The Moon and More is one I’m hesitant to try because of some bad reviews, but I will read it one day. Because, yeah, Sarah Dessen books are just too awesome to ever pass up. 🙂 Thanks! I’m also excited for our future book discussions. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • joysofbookworms says:

        I intend to get onto both of those rather soon. (And yes, part of the reason is that The Moon and More has a new, really pretty cover) Haha I agree! Me too, I’ll be sure to let you know when I read them 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  8. alireadsbooks says:

    Yay, you reviewed this, too! Ooh, I’m glad you brought up Mac’s healthy eating…I completely forgot about that. That whole concept just seemed really shallow to me. Like, I understand that he was insecure and wanted to lose weight and be healthy, but I think she tried too hard to make it into something really profound and awe-inspiring.
    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • sumlynnnguyen says:

      Yes! As much as I love Sarah Dessen, the characters just weren’t as dynamic this time. I really loved Layla’s character though, she reminded me of Kristy from TAF. And thank you! 🙂

      Like

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