Title: Saint Anything
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Awards/Nominations: 2015 Goodreads Awards Nominee
“The future was one thing that could never be broken, because it had not yet had the chance to be anything.” (Excerpt from the book)
Synopsis: Peyton, Sydney’s brother was once popular and full of promise. But now he’s sentenced to prison and Sydney struggles with not only her parents, but also finding her place in the world while feeling invisible. But then she meets the Chatham family, who accept her completely and help her open up, especially Mac, who sees her as she truly is.
Five reasons to read
- Characters: I loved every single character in this book, which has been hard to say this year. They all felt genuine, individual, heartwarming and fleshed out. I especially loved Sydney, Mac, Layla, Mrs. Chatham, Petyon (brother) and Sydney’s mom. Sarah Dessen balances every character equally, offering them room to grow and fill the story with their words, feelings and revelations. I also deeply appreciated the friendships in this book.
Layla completely accepts Sydney, never judging her and helping her to open up and just have fun. Layla loves thrift shopping and a die hard French fry connoisseur. But as she sees the fears that Sydney has, as well as opening up about her feelings, Layla gives the space Sydney needs and in her own quiet way guides Sydney to be herself. That’s what real friendship is to me; help them accept who they are, never judge them and be there when they need you. No questions asked. Their friendship reminds me of me and my best friend Marissa, who I’ve been friends with for 13 years. You accept them as they are and never force them to do anything they don’t want to.
Mac was the kind of love interest we need more of. A quiet guy who worked hard to get where he’s at, helps the family business, but also dreams of higher things. He sees Sydney as a real person and tells her that she’s not invisible. He lets her talk when she’s ready and offers gentle support in the things that she struggles with. They even bond over the pizza deliveries that Mac does for the business. He never tries anything and only wants what’s best for Sydney. Despite some struggles they have in the book, he stays true every step of the way.
Sydney’s family was a very different dynamic than I expected. Peyton is in prison and doesn’t want to see any of his family. The father handles the bills, works and doesn’t talk much. But the mother, however, is a very stubborn character and can feel like the enemy. She struggles with Peyton not wanting to see her, and treats her son like the victim of the accident and refuses to talk about the consequences of what happened in the accident. She does not listen to Sydney and cracks down on her after a small event in the book. I understood some of of the reasons why she was the way she was. Not every parent is relaxed and listens to their kids. But where she ends up as a person by the end offers hope and a change that felt completely like her.
2. Atmosphere: This book made me feel happy and grounded every time I picked it up. Set in North Carolina, you see: pizza shops, a carousel out in the woods, summer bands playing and the feeling of a small town. I got engulfed in the simple atmosphere of Layla and Sydney talking about clothes and French fries, the Chatham family playing music and the summer type atmosphere it brought.
3. Romance: The romance between Sydney and Mac was so wonderful! I was always hesitant to read contemporary romances. I always thought I was too old for them and such. But this romance proved me wrong. While it’s a shy friendship at first, their progression felt very natural. Sydney is shy and just makes small talk with Mac. But as she becomes invested in the Chatham family, she sees how he loves his family, his personal success story and how he treats Sydney like a person. They never jumped the gun or did anything that could cause problems. It’s sweet and just right.
4. Messages: I had heard that the reason why Sarah Dessen has become so influential and has a legion of fans is because of the messages in her novels. The message of this novel is beautiful. To me it, it’s two messages:
“Happy, normal lives going on in happy, normal ways, in a works that was anything but. Once you realize this, experienced something that made it crystal clear, you couldn’t forget it. Like a face. Or a name. However you learn that truth, once it’s with you, it never really goes away.”
“You never know what lay ahead; the future was one thing that could never be broken, because it had not yet had the chance to be anything.” (excerpts from the book)
These messages are very crucial for our world, that’s in turmoil a lot. We need to let the future be something. You never know what lays ahead of you. These things that Sydney learns are ones that our future generations need to treasure and keep close. These messages inspired me to do just that.
5. Writing/Storytelling: Sarah Dessen is flawless when it comes to her writing of capturing the changes we experience in life. Teenagers can go through a lot before their adult years. When things happen that are beyond our control, we struggle with how to handle those things. Dessen knows that so well. She tells a story about a girl who doesn’t understand her brother’s choices and wishes that she could be seen by her parents. But through one family, life can change and seem brighter than ever before. The flawless pacing, voice and honest writing was entrancing and makes me very excited to read more of Dessen’s work.
Alright everyone, thanks for sticking with me! I really hope you enjoyed this and I hope these reasons will inspire you to try this book for yourselves. If you’ve read other books by Sarah Dessen, do let me know which ones are your favorites or what you’ve thought of this book 🙂 Have a great day everyone!