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.
I’m going to be perfectly honest and say I was worried about this book. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sarah Dessen‘s last novel (The Moon and More) and was afraid that I’d somehow just grown out of them. Saint Anything though? It’s by far my new favorite of all her novels. She veered a bit away from the typical ‘girl is struggling, girl meets boy, boy makes everything better’ plot line a little bit and brought some deeper, darker feelings into the mix and it WORKED.
I know this is going to sound crazy, but I’m really proud of Dessen. I think she was sort of in a rut and she had this story in her head but was afraid it wouldn’t be a big hit because it addresses issues that she’s never addressed before – but she convinced herself to go for it and I honestly think that it was the best thing she could have done.
Instead of just relating to the main character, Sydney, I found myself relating to Layla a lot as well which is unusual for this sort of novel. I think that finally, instead a guy saving the main character in a Dessen novel, a best friend is coming into the picture and helping more than any dude could and I LOVE that. Best friends are around a heck of a lot longer than any guy is, and if anyone saves each other it should be friends.
While this story did have it’s downfalls (there’s still that recycled romance thrown in), most of it was really good. There was a lot about Peyton and what he did and how Sydney felt, and more than anything I was driven to my breaking point by their ridiculous mother. She was deep, deeeeep into denial and it was very frustrating. Sometimes Sydney got on my nerves because she would just go along with whatever everyone else said or did, but ultimately I really loved the story. I hope that Dessen continues to write like this but if you follow her on Twitter, you know she’s not actually writing at the moment. Fingers crossed that something inspires her soon! I gave Saint Anything 5/5 stars on Goodreads, and definitely recommend it!