Sydney Stanford has grown up in the shadow of her older brother. Peyton has been getting in trouble for years, his infractions growing larger and larger, and eventually, landing him in jail for crippling someone during a drunk-driving accident. With her brother in jail and her mother focused on his comfort and safety, Sydney finds herself alone in her guilt over what her brother did. To make matters worse, her brother’s older, strange friend is always around, and Sydney can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t right about him. Saint Anything is a high school story about family, friendship, consequences, and the importance of listening to your gut.
I’ll admit that I’m partial to some of the couples in Sarah Dessen’s stories (Wes & Macy, Remy & Dexter). Mac and Sydney’s romance is sweet, but slow. It’s not as large a part of the story as usual Dessen novels, but I appreciated it.
Feminist Score: Between Not a Bit and You’re Trying [Note: SPOILER BELOW]
I’m a huge Sarah Dessen fan, and looked forward to this book for months. I really enjoyed the story plot, and about 90% of the book went exactly as I expected. But… the ending. I just can’t understand the ending of this book. [SPOILER]: I just could not believe that after all of the months of stalking, and everything that happened, Sydney didn’t press charges against Ames.
Sarah Dessen is a YA author who writes about both sweet, fun, summer love stories and serious, hard topics. In many of her books, she tries to weave between both, and is relatively effective. The teens in her novels tend to be a little more passive than I’d like, but overall, they seem to get the justice they deserve (see: Annabelle in Just Listen). In that regard, this book really falls short. I was so disappointed by the lack of action at the end. Thousands of teens rely on Sarah Dessen to help them navigate through tough teenage years. One of the hardest things a person can face is knowing that someone is creepy, but not being able to do anything about it. I wish Sarah had followed through and proven that there is something you can do, but instead, I’ll give my own advice.
If he’s creepy, or lurking, or just seems off, tell an adult. If that adult does not listen, tell another adult. Call the police. File charges, and get him in jail. There is no need to be polite, or good, or sweet, or give him the benefit of the doubt, when your life or body is at stake.
Diversity Score: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort
Sydney, like most of Dessen’s protagonists, is white and wealthy. I don’t believe any of the main characters of the story aren’t white. That being said, I appreciate a story that talks about violence in wealthy, white communities. It’s easy to believe that bad things don’t happen on the nicer side of town. This story highlights that fact well.
Awesome Factor: You’re Trying
I really, really wanted to like this book. I actually did like most of it. But I can’t get over my views about the ending (see: Feminist Score).
Layla. I loved her obsession with french fries and finding the perfect combination of junk food. I think we could be friends.
“You get used to people being a certain way; you depend on it. And when they surprise you, for better or worse, it can shake you to the core.”
Is this worth a book hangover?
I really, really wanted to like this book. I’m a huge Sarah Dessen fan, and I love the way she writes. I was absolutely in love with this book until the last 30 pages. I would say it’s worth the read (especially if you’re a Sarah Dessen fan), but be prepared to be a bit disappointed.
Fun Author Fact
Lakeview, the setting for Saint Anything (and most of Sarah Dessen’s other books), is based in Sarah’s home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Read This Next
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. This book captures all of the magic of Lakeview in typical Dessen fashion, but with a more satisfying ending.
Post Author: Anisha
Anisha adores YA romance – and thinks that all love stories should start on the beach and end with the first kiss. Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.