Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Book review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

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.

Like a lot of people, I’m a pretty loyal fan of Sarah Dessen and her books.  Saint Anything is her most recent one, filled with just as much heartbreak and recovering from tragedy as her books tend to be.  This time we follow Sydney, whose family is still reeling from her brother being sent to jail for hitting a kid while drunk driving.

As always, Dessen writes characters well, full of quirks and reason to like them even when they’re being unreasonable (for the most part).  The acceptance of their situation is not rushed; in fact, I felt like it went at the right pace, especially since the story takes place not that long after Peyton was put in jail.  Sydney’s mother is a bit frustrating, with reason to be, though I felt like it was laid on a little bit thick in some parts.

The only problem I really had with the book, though, was something that seems common in Dessen’s books: she loves flipping around in time.  One minute they’re in the present, and another minute there’s a flashback.  Sometimes there’s a flashback within a flashback and I just got completely turned around and confused at just what was going on in the present.  I feel like for how long she’s been around, Dessen could learn to write a bit more linear.

Despite that, though, this is definitely a book I’d recommend.  So happy reading!