SAINT ANYTHING by Sarah Dessen
417 pages | Viking | Buy it
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.
Even though I haven’t read all of Sarah Dessen’s books, I have enjoyed the few that I’ve read so far. Since Sandie hasn’t really had a chance to read her books, she very kindly sent me Saint Anything so I could read it. It was a fun surprise for me since I had included this book on my list of TBR for the summer.
Like the other Dessen books that I’ve read, Saint Anything was a pleasant read with relatable characters and themes, and a VERY loveable male protagonist (as are all of Dessen’s male love interests). That’s what I love about her books, I know that even if the protagonists are going through a difficult situation, there are always going to be incredibly positive people to rally around the situation.
In this case, protagonist Sydney is feeling lost now that her very larger than life brother Peyton, is in jail and he is no longer around to be the focus of her parents’ attention. Peyton was one of those guys that people are seemingly drawn to and Sydney is the complete opposite. With him gone, she begins to feel invisible to everyone around her, which is fine with her. In fact, she begs her parents to allow her to transfer to a new school where she can really be invisible and not have to relive what happened to Peyton with everyone around her.
Despite wanting to have a low profile, Sydney meets Layla Chatham at school. Layla is fun loving, outgoing, and doesn’t take no for an answer. When Sydney goes to Seaside, a nearby pizza place after school, she discovers that Layla’s family owns the place. She also meets Layla’s brother Mac. Sydney is immediately drawn not only to his warmth, but to his entire family. Through the Chathams, Sydney feels unconditional love for the first time in her life.
Dessen gives us a story about the importance of family, friendship, and love. She reminds us that everyone needs to know that they matter.
I was used to being invisible. People rarely saw me, and if they did, they never looked close. I wasn’t shiny and charming like my brother, stunning and graceful like my mother, or smart and dynamic like my friends. That’s the thing, though. You always think you want to be noticed. Until you are.
The future was one thing that could never be broken, because it had not yet had the chance to be anything.
As I shut the door and started to walk away, I heard him say, “Hey. Sydney.”
“You had on a shirt with mushrooms on it, and your hair was pulled back. Silver earrings. Pepperoni slice. No lollipop.”
I just looked at him, confused. Layla was walking toward us now.
“The first time you came into Seaside,” he said. “You weren’t invisible, not to me. Just so you know.”
For as long as I could remember, other people had either overshadowed me or left me out in the open, alone. But Mac, as Layla had said all those weeks ago, was always somewhere nearby. He left me enough space to stand alone, but stood at the ready for the moment that I didn’t want to. It was the perfect medium, I was learning. Like he was my saint, the one I’d been waiting for.