Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Saint Anything

Sydney’s older brother Peyton was the jewel of his parent’s and the community’s eyes. Outgoing, fun-loving and seemingly on a course to have anything he wanted out of life, Peyton and his family’s life came to a screeching halt one night when he got behind the wheel of a car while impaired and hit a young man riding home on his bicycle.

Now Peyton is serving his sentence and Sydney and her family are left to pick up the pieces. That includes Sydney having to sacrifice her last few years of high school at a private school with her friends and heading to public school this fall. It also means that Peyton is feeling a bit distant from her parents — particularly her mother who seems to be focused on how to reconnect with Peyton and making sure he doesn’t feel like his family has forgotten about him.

Sydney is also wracked with guilt over what Peyton did and the impact that it had on the young man and his family. Thanks to the power of the Internet, Sydney is able to see how the young man is doing and even to contemplate reaching out to him in some kind of gesture.

Saint Anything is Sarah Dessen attempting to stretch a bit from what I consider her typical young adult novel. The story has some heavy overtones to it and there are some interesting questions raised over the course of the novel. And yet, I don’t necessarily feel that this one is “all that and a bag of chips” that I’ve seen others refer to it as in their review. Maybe I’m older and bit more cynical than the target audience. Or maybe it’s that there are times in the book when Sydney feels too much like a victim and I kept wanting to reach and tell her to wake up and assert some control over her life.

Sydney is very passive aggressive. At one point, her brother’s friend who is helping the family with his prison experience is around on a weekend when Syd’s parents are away visiting her brother. Syd feels uncomfortable having him in the house with her alone (her instincts prove true as the novel unfolds) and instead of asserting herself with her mother, she invites her new friend over for a sleepover, thus shutting down any plans the guy may or may not have.

And, of course, this being a young adult novel there has to be a bit of a romance, though I’ll give Dessen credit for trying to give us something different. And it’s not insta-love, so that’s a couple of points in her favor.

Overall, though I came away from Saint Anything only liking it rather than loving it. I feel like this one had some great potential that it didn’t quite live up to.


Filed under book review, review

2 responses to “Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

  1. I definitely liked this one more than you did! But I hear you about Sydney’s passive-aggressive personality. I think I read her more as being shut out by her parents, almost that she felt she couldn’t come to them, couldn’t trust them to be there for her, so why bother vocalizing her concerns about that guy? They wouldn’t consider her feelings even if she did speak up (is what she thought). But I agree about the romance – I liked that it built slowly and started as a friendship!

    • I can see what you’re saying. But I also kept feeling like Sydney should be pushed to a point where she’s stand up for herself. Or at least I kept hoping she would!

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