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Sunday, 17 May 2015

Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: 5 May 2015
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Source: Dymocks Book Store
Reviewed: Sapphired Dragon
Rating: **** 1/2 

My Review:

I am generally not the biggest fan of the YA contemporary genre, though it has grown on me a little bit more this past year. As a consequence, I am extremely picky about the YA contemporary titles I pick up and the fact is that whilst I had previously heard good things about Sarah Dessen's books and her writing. Saint Anything was the first time I have felt compelled to pick one of her books up to read.

Let me just say I am glad that I did.

Saint anything is about a girl who feels invisible. Her whole life has been overshadowed by her brother and even when he is sent to prison, she stills feels the effects of him on her life.

I loved everything about this book. The story, the writing, the characters. From the beginning I loved the voice of this book, of this girl who has spent so much time feeling like she is an afterthought in her family's lives, struggling to find herself and her own voice and her place in the world.

This meant that right from the beginning I connected with Sydney, and with the story in general. So for the first time in a while,  I was able to lose myself in the story. I loved Ms Dessen's writing style. There was an easy flow that allowed you to get settled straight into the story and the tone seemed exactly right as difficult subjects were tackled and were not over dramatised or under played.

I also like the fact that this wasn't your typical boy from the wrong side of the tracks meets over privileged girl from the right side of the tracks and have to tackle insurmountable hurdles to be together. Romance does play a part in this novel but there it is also about friendship, acceptance, guilt, consequences and life in general.

I loved all the characters in this novel. They were all so crisp and clear cut and easy to see in my minds eye. Even the more peripheral characters were drawn well and added to the flavour and humour of the novel. Ms Dessen has this way with her turns of phrase that made me laugh out loud not to mention actually copy quotes down in my reading journal, which is something I have never done before. To me, it was these kinds of phrases that really help me visualise the characters and get a bit of a handle on what they were about.

From Irving on page 194: "Can't get drunk, have to push the merry-go-round" Irv's baritone came from the darkness "Don't know why I even hang out with you guys."

From Mac on page 244 "Layla has a tendency to make everything I do sound kinda twee. My 'woods wandering'. My 'tinkering'. It's like I am her own personal gnome or something."

And Mac? I don't have a lot of book boyfriends but if I did he would be one of them. Right from the beginning he is a good friend and brother and son. He is there for Sydney in a way, no has been before but even when he mostly knows here as his sister Layla's friend, he is there for not only her but all his friends and family.

I think in the end, it might be the characters that really completed the package for me as I really felt connected to them, like these were people I could be friends with. So I truly cared what happened to them.

In the introduction at the beginning of this book, Ms Dessen likened the writing of this book to flying and that is how the reading of it felt to me. I literally flew through the pages, eagerly gobbling up every word.

This is is not your average run of the mill YA contemporary. This is a moving, real story full of characters that will draw you in and bring you home.

I give this novel 4 1/2 stars

Sapphired Dragon xx



About The Book:


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.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.





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