Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Release Date: May 2015
Retail Price: $16.99
Overall Rating: 8/10
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Family and Drama
Do you ever have a dish at a restaurant and they followed the recipe perfectly- perfect amount of seasoning, sauce and herbs? Well, that is pretty much what Sarah Dessen’s Saint Anything was like. It left me tingling and lighthearted. Often young-adult romances are lacking a pinch of salt but Saint Anything was pretty much perfect. However, with a few faults here and there Saint Anything is one of the closest novels that is a perfect contemporary. It delivered an amazing novel, which I devoured. I hadn’t read a Sarah Dessen novel before this one and after reading this novel- I know why she is now considered a legend of contemporaries.
Saint Anything follows the story of Sydney, who has always been kept behind stage. No matter where she goes she always gets judged on her brother- Peyton and her parents aren’t much help either. Her parents’ main focus is all Peyton that Sydney feels left out. After moving schools she meets the loving family of the Chathams, a family that is totally different but it’s here where she gets pulled into a second family. She meets Layla and Mac who both help her as crisis in her own household begins to grow.
*SPOILERS FOR SAINT ANYTHING AHEAD*
First of all let me just say this book was almost perfect, it ended happily but was still deep- unlike All The Bright Places and Eleanor and Park (which are my favorite contemporaries) Saint Anything actually ended on a happy mood but Sarah Dessen still dealt with dark, relatable teenage themes.
Sydney has to deal with the fact that her parents do not care much about her and assumes her behavior based on her brother’s. Most of us who have siblings have gone through that feeling of emptiness and disappointment when our parents have your sibling as their main focus. I also really enjoyed how Sydney dealt with the guilt of her brother. That was a really interesting theme to explore- bearing someone else’s guilt. I personally would have reacted the same way as Sydney as I would feel guilty for her brother’s act as her family treated Peyton like he didn’t do anything wrong. I like how it ended with Sydney, gaining the courage to go up to David to apologize and to make an effort to get to meet him.
Whilst exploring this theme many other typical teenage drama was also executed in the novel, such as, the romance of Mac and Sydney and also that typical “new girl at school” drama. I really enjoyed how she dealt with a really unique theme whilst having that typical cliche drama, as it adds a lot of depth to the normal cutesy romance.
We all love a cutesy romance contemporary but usually they are too superficial to be consider the best contemporary novel. However, if you, like me, love contemporaries which are genuine, dark but at the same time have that cute romance blossoming, Saint Anything sure didn’t disappoint. Sydney, the main character, seemed like such a genuine person. She had her flaws and perks- just like any normal person would. She was truly 3D and you can really see that through her thoughts which were written on the page. When she felt agitated and mad, I felt the same way. Sarah Dessen’s writing is not over-descriptive yet under-descriptive and little lights of humor and teenage personalities still shone through. The characters of the story had so many inside jokes that we discovered and it felt as if we were friends with the characters for a very long time.
The events which took place in the story seemed so real that reading the story was like watching it unfold in front of your eyes. The story was the perfect length- it was thick but not too long and wasn’t super short like many contemporaries. However, with its positive there must be some negatives. As I was reading the story, in one of the last few chapters I started to freak out because there were so many unsolved problems- Mrs Chatham was hospitalized, her parents were extremely mad with her and her relationship with Mac was going through a rocky time. There were too many problems which needed a resolution once we got to the 5th last chapter, which lead to the book ending abruptly and it felt forced. Saint Anything was meant to be a contemporary cutesy romance and at times I felt lost and nearly forgot about the romance of Mac and Sydney in the background. I think it could have been better if there were perhaps more moments to remind us about the romance.
Sarah Dessen’s Saint Anything was a truly special read and I would love to read it again and again as it felt like a roller coaster. I can’t wait to read more of her other novels which I will definitely be picking up. I totally recommend this novel if you loved Stephanie Perkins. It was the perfect recipe for a book!