Review: ‘Saint Anything’ by Sarah Dessen #2016HW

Saint Anything by Sarah DessenImagine forever following in the wake of a person that is handsome, charming and the bright light of the family. He’s always up for a dare and people are drawn to him like moths to a flame. You get lost, always the shadow to his brilliance. Then, as fires sometimes do, he starts to burn everything in his path, from bridges to relationships to home. Who are you now?

Up until high school, Sydney’s brother Peyton was that shining star. But after he gets involved in drinking and drugs, he changes. After stints at rehab, he finally stays sober – until he relapses with horrible consequences. Peyton is so gone that he doesn’t even know he’s hit that kid on the bicycle. Now it’s prison time for Peyton.

Sydney wants a fresh start, one where no one knows that she’s Peyton’s sister. Since everything at home revolves around Peyton even more now, it’s a relief to be her own person at Jackson High School. And as she starts to push aside Peyton’s brash legacy to figure out who she is, she learns to stand up for what she thinks is right, no matter the consequences.

This is the first book in a long while that I have not wanted to end. The main story would be enough; it’s heartbreakingly real, from the magnetic older brother to the invisible good girl; from the dad who doesn’t argue to the mother who wants to put a happy face on everything. This tale becomes deeper and more complex with the addition of not only a romantic interest, but a support system for Sydney in the form of her new friends. These people help her to not only consider herself and her feelings, but they offer her new perspectives on her predicament – and also a break from it.

One of the particularly good side stories is about Peyton’s friend from Narcotics Anonymous, Ames. He’s a sympathetic listener who serves as a Peyton pseudo-substitute for Sydney’s mom, nodding and clucking in commiseration with her as she tries to navigate the waters of Peyton’s incarceration (whether Peyton wants her to or not). Is Ames just a lonely guy who is looking for a family or something else entirely?

What’s truly wonderful is how even the secondary characters are fully developed people who have something to add to the conversation. Though never slow, this book takes its time to tell everyone’s story, and it is all the richer for it.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen was published May 5, 2015 by Viking. I purchased this book last year.

Rating: 5

Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary Romance 
Ages: 13 and up

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