Monday, June 29, 2015

"Saint Anything" by Sarah Dessen

I first heard of this book on Reading in the Dark, and Hannah made it sound quite interesting, and even heart-warming in a way, so I got it to read for myself.

It kind of reminded me of a Jodi Piccoult book.  I read a whole bunch of her books 7 or 8 years ago, and this has a similar approach in that it's about a family grappling with a serious modern issue.  In this book, it's what happens to a family when one sibling goes to prison.

Sydney's older brother drives drunk and hits a young teen with his car.  He was already on probation, so he has to serve time for it.  Sydney's parents spend all their time thinking about her brother and ignoring her.  She decides to switch schools because she's tired of being known simply as the sister of her popular and infamous brother.  At her new school, she makes friends with two siblings, Layla and Mac, who welcome her into their circle of friends.  They're nice to the point of almost being too perfect, though they do have a flawed older sister.  

Then there's Ames, Sydney's brother's friend who creeps her out.  Getting into spoiler territory here, so skip to the next paragraph if you don't want spoilage.  I was actually annoyed that creepy Ames did end up assaulting Sydney because it felt rather cliche -- teen has creepy feeling about someone and it turns out they're evil.  Happens so much in YA.  I'd have much preferred if she'd had a creepy feeling about him, but he never actually did anything horrible, because that would have been much more realistic.  I've known a lot of people that gave off a creepy vibe to me, but weren't actually creepers.  I know that it's important that teens learn to trust their gut instinct because creepers do exist, but I feel like this is so prevalent anymore that teens could start believing, "Oh, I thought that person was creepy, and I need to trust my instincts, so clearly that person is bad!"  Which ain't necessarily so.  However, this is fiction, and there are certain things you have to do in fiction -- if you spend lots and lots of time throughout the novel discussing how creepy someone is, they'd better turn out to actually be a creeper cuz your audience expects it.

Okay, mild rant over.  For the most part, I liked this book a lot.  One thing I absolutely loved about it is that there's zero sex.  Not only that, but even though Sydney gets a new boyfriend, and they do kiss, there's never any suggestion that either of them were even considering sleeping with each other.  It's not simply a given, which feels kinda rare for modern teen fiction.  

Particularly Good Bits:

I'd done the right thing.  I always did.  It just would have been nice if someone had noticed (p. 61).

If This Was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for themes of teen alcohol and drug use, a scary moment, and mid-level profanity, including taking the Lord's name in vain.

8 comments:

  1. I'm glad you liked it! I haven't read any Jodi Picoult myself; might need to. I thought she did the right thing with Ames, just because it seemed like that was the only real reason he was sticking around. I do wish it had happened a little differently, though, not quite so rushed and forgotten right into something else. I think the important side of that was that he didn't seem creepy to the adults. Often the ones you really can't trust are those who can turn it on or off, rather than those that are accidentally creepy...does that make sense? You should read some of her other books; there's quite a variety!

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    1. I was really really really into Jodi Piccoult for a while, and then all of a sudden I was like, "I can't take this much dramatic tension anymore!" I would get frantically lost in her books. Since you really like this, though, by all means, give her a shot! I read The Tenth Circle and Plain Truth and Change of Heart and Nineteen Minutes, all within like a year or so. I liked Plain Truth best.

      I'll have to see if the library has more of Dessen's books!

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    2. Oh, but as for Ames, I thought that he was kind of parasitic, really just wanting to feed off anything the family would let him get, and that Sydney was just kind of icing on the cake. Just my impression, though.

      I actually liked how things ended with him -- I was really proud of Sydney's dad, who had kind of been a non-entity until then.

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    3. I agree! This was my favorite part with her dad!

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  2. I haven't read anything by Sarah Dessen. I thought hers are YA romance things, which are not my cup of tea. But I love Jodi Picoult's book (though I've only read 3-4 titles). Maybe I should give Dessen a chance, someday.

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    1. Bzee, there is a romance in it, but that's not the main plot of the book. I can't speak to her other books, though.

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  3. I am SO far behind in my blog reading because I hadn't realized you'd read this! I'm glad you enjoyed it, I've liked several of her other books. Dessen just has a way of writing about serious issues and keeping them relatable for teens. Or even adults! I hope to read this one some day soonish.

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    1. Kara, I really liked Dessen's writing, so I'm sure I'll pick up more of her books at some point!

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