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. [Goodreads]
Saint Anything stands as one of the most beautifully written, complex and honest stories that Dessen has created. It has been a while since the release of The Moon and More was released and after reading it, I was a little disappointed. Never the less, I was still excited to hear that she’d written another novel, even if I had no clue what it was about until I had the novel in my hands and was reading it.
The story follows Sydney, who is constantly overshadowed by her brother Peyton and so classes herself invisible. With a recent incident that ends with Peyton spending his time in prison, Sydney finds herself more lost than before. She finds her home a prison in itself but when she stumbles into a pizza place, she meets the Chatham family and not only finds comfort, but also people who see her.
Dessen has truly outdone herself with the complexity and depth of the characters in this novel. There were so many things about this book that I could relate too, especially with the sibling overshadowing another, but I loved that there is a large portion of the novel that focuses on Sydney’s family and how it affects her at home and not just at school. It’s always refreshing to have parent involvement in YA novels and with them so heavily involved you could understand and see how their actions really effected Sydney. I felt so sad reading about the relationship between Sydney and Peyton, the contrast of how they used to be and how distant they were since he’d gone to prison. I felt that it was dealt with really well and there were aspects that I could see with me and my sister (minus all the rebel in Peyton and the prison situation).
The romance was light yet meaningful in the novel. Initially, I thought it was a bit of an awkward situation but it played out well. I liked that it wasn’t a novel fully focused on the romance and we did get an insight into their relationship throughout the book, rather than the novel building up to them getting together, which is a lot like other Dessen books.
The ending was predictable but I enjoyed the read. I wish there was more!! As a stand alone it is really good but there is also so much more that could be done with it. Everything is left a little open ended.