Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Rating: 5 stars
I've heard only great things about Sarah Dessen's books and Saint Anything was the first one that crossed my radar a few months ago now and I knew immediately when I read the synopsis that I would be adding it to my To Be Read pile, if not only in part because the cover art for this book is absolutely beautiful.
A contemporary story this is a beautiful story with its roots very much in the importance of family and friendship. Sydney is a high school junior when her brother Peyton is sent to prison for a DUI accident which leaves another young teen in a wheelchair. A culmination of a long series of criminal misdemeanors and drug issues means that Sydney has no illusions about her brother's culpability but her parents still seem to be blinded to their golden child's faults. Struggling to escape the shadow her brother casts over their lives Sydney moves to a new school and there meets Layla, Mac and their close family who run a local pizza restaurant and their friendship and welcoming home suddenly offer a safe haven that Syndey is badly in need of.
This book is so heartwarming, it is a character focused book in which we truly fall in love with the people we meet throughout. Sydney is a great character, she is intelligent and hard working and clearly struggling to feel noticed within a household where the entire attention of her parents has been focused on her wayward brother. She is clearly having to be self-sufficient and struggling with the presence of her brother's creepy best friend who keeps hanging around their home.
When she meets Layla and her family you instantly fall in love with them. The unquestioning way Layla accepts her family's troubles and the warmth she offers Sydney mean they are impossible to dislike. The joy of this book is the absolute focus that Dessen puts into building a story about the importance of a strong support network and the people you choose to surround yourselves with. Friends, family and those you love. For Sydney, this has been missing and it's wonderful to follow her journey from loneliness and isolation to feeling part of a family.
For the first book I've read by Sarah Dessen I was blown away, I loved it. I read it in just under 2 days and literally could not wait to keep reading it. Chapters flew by as I just wanted to lose myself in this book. I couldn't recommend it highly enough. I will absolutely be reading more books by this author in the weeks and months ahead. I know in the UK that Sarah Dessen is perhaps a little less well known alongside other Young Adult writers but from having read this book I truly fail to understand why.