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.
Song For This Book: Hold On by Walk Off The Earth
Why? This seemed to just match Sydney’s mindset throughout, the idea of just hanging in there for another day, and getting through one more thing.
I’ve read this book a few times before I actually bothered to write a review about it, and for the first time, I actually lowered my rating after this last read through. As I get older, some of the teen themes are starting to get frustrating, because they are so easy to deal with if the characters would just talk about it. But I’m not going to go there for now, and just stick to the book itself.
This is one of my favourite Sarah Dessen books. It’s nothing spectacularly different as compared to the rest of her books, staying with the same themes of love, family, friendship, and self-discovery. But I particularly liked the characters and how Sydney’s family all interacted with each other in this one, leaving it as one of the better ones I’ve read of hers. This was my fourth time rereading this book, and it passes the test to get to stay on my shelf.
The Good Points of Saint Anything:
The characters are all well developed, complex and they actually sound like teenagers. That last one is the most important point, because so many YA contemporaries make the teens sound like adults. A seventeen year old doesn’t talk like a twenty five year old, and Dessen doesn’t fall into that trap.
As mentioned, the relationships between Sydney’s family members are so well done. There’s a lot going on for these people, and it’s a tricky situation because each of them have good reasons to be doing what they’re doing. And it comes together so well.
These characters love food the way I love food. On this fact alone, I related more to the characters.
If you read my review regularly, you know that romance isn’t my thing. There’s a lot of reviews that mention that the romance is kind of dull in this one, and while that’s probably true, I liked it. The romance took a backseat to companionship and being there for other people, and it was perfect.
The Downsides of Saint Anything:
While the characters and conflicts are wonderful, this book felt kind of safe. Nothing too crazy happens, nothing even slightly controversial happened. And it worked, but the rest of the book was so good, I think more conflict could have driven it over the top. I just wanted more from this book.
The pacing was a little funny. Overall it wasn’t bad, but it sometimes dragged and sometimes seemed rushed. And the scenes I wanted more from were the ones that seemed rushed.
All in all, I really enjoy this book, and hopefully will continue to do so in future. Sarah Dessen is great, and while this isn’t my favourite book of hers, it’s still a good one. If you’re looking for something that will mess with your feels a bit, but not so much that you’ll cry in public. And it’ll make you majorly hungry.