Summary: 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. [Goodreads]
To start off: If you love contemporary novels and you haven’t read anything by Sarah Dessen, you should probably get started on that (I would recommend this and Along For the Ride–trust me). It’s always nice to go from reading something dark or hardcore fantasy to a simple realistic book that leaves you feeling happy, and in this case, I was not disappointed. I read this book in one sitting (a little less than two hours) and wouldn’t let myself get up to do anything until I finished it. There have been some books from Dessen that miss the mark, but Saint Anything was such a great read that I was totally hooked from the first three pages.
My favorite part about this book was the fact that even though the book is advertised to be a romance, it focuses more the values of family and friendship more, which I thought was a welcomed change for these kind of books. The main character, Sydney, is so sheltered when the story starts that you don’t just want her to find the right guy, but you want her to find a group of people that make her feel welcomed and like she belongs. So when she finds Layla and the rest of the Chathams, as well as Layla and Mac’s friends, I was really pleased that the book wouldn’t be super cheesy. Her relationship with Layla is so refreshing (as a person who reads a whole lot of books where the friends are not always supportive and nice) and I loved all the moments they were together, just because they seemed more like sisters than just friends. Sydney’s family is also one of the major conflicts throughout the story, mostly because of her parents being overprotective since her brother was sent to prison. Her parents are not perfect, obviously, and they end up pushing her away as they try to keep her close, but they redeem themselves hugely at the end (her mom by actually connecting with her daughter and her dad saving her from creepy Ames). Speaking of Ames, the boy is freaking. Like, skin-crawling creepy. Beware. However, he’s an important character because he allows Sydney’s loved ones to show her how they will always protect her.
I suppose it’s inevitable when you read a romance novel that you’ll have to talk about the romance parts of the book. Mac was one of the better love interests I’ve read about (but still inferior to Cricket Bell and Peeta Mellark ;)) and he actually had a back story that didn’t involve death or a parent abandoning him. I guess Dessen is spicing it up? Mac was nice, he was quiet but not mysterious, and he wasn’t rude. Solid A love interest. His relationship with Sydney wasn’t the main feature of the story, which, as I already said, was a really nice change. He was there when she needed him, they enjoyed each other’s company (and not in a gross way), and the climax wasn’t based on their relationship. I really liked that aspect of the story.
I would suggest this book to anyone with a contemporary obsession or someone in need of a book with a happy ending (there are too many books out right now that don’t end happily). If you’re looking for books and need some recommendations, feel free to contact me!
Rating: 4.5 stars
Favorite Quote: “What you do in your dreams is never your choice.”