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Saint Anything

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A New York Times bestseller

A TIME Magazine Top 10 Children's Book of 2015

"Saint Anything is a poignant, honest story about how we might suffer the misfortune of someone else's bad choices, how people who love us can become family when we desperately need it, and how starting over might - miraculously - mean taking a solid leap forward." —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling novelist of Leaving Time and My Sister’s Keeper

Sydney has always felt invisible. She's grown accustomed to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of the family’s attention and, lately, concern. Peyton is handsome and charismatic, but seems bent on self-destruction. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, Peyton’s serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own, questioning her place in the family and the world.

Then she meets the Chatham family. Drawn into their warm, chaotic circle, Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time. There’s effervescent Layla, who constantly falls for the wrong guy, Rosie, who’s had her own fall from grace, and Mrs. Chatham, who even though ailing is the heart of the family. But it’s with older brother Mac—quiet, watchful, and protective—that Sydney finally feels seen, really seen, at last.

Saint Anything is Sarah Dessen’s deepest and most psychologically probing novel yet, telling an engrossing story of a girl discovering friendship, love, and herself.

417 pages, Hardcover

First published May 5, 2015

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Sarah Dessen

94 books45.7k followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,623 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
December 4, 2015
2 1/2 stars. Saint Anything is my first Sarah Dessen book, which may have been a mistake, but all I know is that this book is a perfect example of how to write great, natural dialogue, fleshed-out characters and relationships, and never once make me feel a single emotion.

Despite reading praise after praise about Sarah Dessen, I admit I've avoided her work because her stories just do not sound very compelling. But I finally decided to cast aside my reservations and try this - a great writer can make any story interesting, right?

Um, I'm not so sure. I'm rating up on this one because it's hard to deny that Dessen is a competent writer. The narrative flows smoothly and the everyday dialogue feels realistic - she captures the "voice" of teenage girls very well. Every character is complex and developed, complete with likes, dislikes, aspirations, hopes and quirks that make them uniquely themselves. Very few authors manage this to the extent that Dessen does.

But where is the hook? Where is the drive to keep turning pages to find out what will happen to Sydney? To Peyton? To Mac and Layla? It's so so tame. Saint Anything needs a good shot of drama, angst, tragedy or something in order to be more than an exercise in good character writing.

Perhaps it will appeal more to readers who genuinely enjoy quiet stories about everyday people. But I just didn't feel much concern for Sydney or Peyton. Maybe it's because I've recently read books about people who are starving, discriminated against, consumed by grief, but I found it hard to be worried what would happen to a pretty, wealthy girl with loving parents and good friends.

The story begins with Sydney's brother - Peyton - being sent to jail for crippling a boy while drunk-driving. Then the camera turns to Sydney, who has to deal with the subsequent horror of overprotective parents and concerned friends. It was honestly quite hard to pity her and I had to roll my eyes when the legal stuff put strain on funds and they had to sell the beach house they never used anyway (boo freaking hoo).

The most interesting thing about this book (in my opinion) was the way Sydney was treated by her parents after Peyton's conviction. I thought it was realistic and unfair that her parents would suddenly put restrictions on Sydney to avoid the same thing happening again. Which, I suppose, is ultimately what this book is about - how someone can get caught up in and be affected by another person's actions.

The romance was sweet, but forgettable. As I already mentioned, Mac was well-developed and fleshed-out, yet lacking any real spark of personality to make their romance one I would remember.

In fact, what I think I will remember most about this book is the FOOD. Pizza and french fries and yum! If it made me feel one thing, then that was HUNGER.

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Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,573 reviews33.9k followers
May 8, 2015
3.5 stars Because it's Sarah Dessen, this is a very pleasant read. But it's not what I'd consider one of her standouts, since it doesn't have moments that quietly hit you the way her best books do. Still, Mac and Sydney are cute together--Sarah writes the most wonderful everyday conversations about nothing and boys who manage to be appealing despite not doing anything particularly dramatic--and the brother-sister storyline ended well, even if it didn't quite have the tension or emotional impact that I think was intended.

Additionally, I don't have beef with fictional parents too often, but the hyper-controlling mom storyline here dragged out way too long.

So if you're a die-hard Dessen fan, just know this one's fine to pass the time, but it might not be one of your favorites. And if you're new to Dessen and like quieter contemporary YA that are about friendships and family and ordinary girls growing up (with a nice, healthy bit of swoon thrown in), you might want to start with The Truth About Forever or Just Listen. I fell in love with her after those (and after reading everything she's published except for one book that I'm hoarding for a rainy day), and despite my middling feelings on this one, I'll still happily read anything she writes.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

P.S. Food craving warning! This book is gonna make you want to eat piles and piles of pizza and French fries. So be prepared.
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.3k followers
August 26, 2022

I dedicated the year of our lord 2018 to a little thing called the “Sarah Dessen Reread Extravaganza.” I spent the whole year (by which I mean an absolute fraction of it) rereading Sarah Dessen books and reliving my youth in order to Prepare Myself for her by then newish release, Once and For All.

It, uh. It did not go well.

Which is fair, honestly. I should not expect myself at the ages of 20 and 21 to like the same things I did when I was 13. Because those things included “wearing 18 coats of mascara in a misguided attempt to resemble the characters of the television program Pretty Little Liars” and “the television program Pretty Little Liars.”

Neither of which scream Refined Taste.

However, I was still disappointed. Because I still love fluffy contemporaries (okay fine, I read them a lot. I do not love them often) and I love nostalgia. So that’s a recipe for success, if you ask me!

Turns out it’s actually a recipe for a whole lot of two star ratings.

But this book. THIS BOOK.

This one was my favorite when I first read it in 2015, at the ripe old age of 17, and it is my favorite now, still, to this day. It has everything I love in a contemporary. Slow-burn romance built from friendship. Friendship. Pizza, and in-depth descriptions of pizza. Summertime. Complicated family dynamics that are magically and completely resolved within 300 pages. Coming Of Age.

This book is a dream and I have simply zero complaints.

For complaints, see any other Sarah Dessen review I have written.

Bottom line: YAY.


sarah dessen came thru

tbr review

sarah dessen come thru
Profile Image for Pearl Angeli.
622 reviews950 followers
July 14, 2016
"That’s the thing, though. You always think you want to be noticed. Until you are."

My first ever Sarah Dessen read and I loved it!

It's kind of difficult to explain how I feel about this book by just using words. I don't even think I can give justice to this book through this review, because until now I'm still in a state of an emotional high.


I've just marked it as a new favorite, because it's hard not to. Sarah Dessen has written something so powerful and heartfelt and a dozen other expressive adjectives that can’t even begin to adequately describe how great this book is.

Saint Anything isn't a total romance and a common story you often encounter in a Young Adult contemporary book. It's deeper and a lot more emotional. It basically talks about family relationships, personal growth, tragedy/recovery, true friendship, and love.

What made me admire this book was the writing style. Sarah Dessen has this eloquent, beautiful way with words that flow with enough sensitivity and understanding. All throughout the book, I felt the calming, comforting feels which is a rare thing that happens to me when reading a book.

Everything in Saint Anything is captivating. It showcases real life-- the ups and downs, struggles, and joy we feel. It also has a well-plotted ending-- which I couldn’t imagine being any more perfect. I have to admit that after experiencing this emotional journey, I had sad and happy tears. This book will stay with me for a very long time!

Rating: 5 Stars
Profile Image for jessica.
2,534 reviews32.5k followers
August 27, 2018
this was only my second sarah dessen novel, but i think its safe to say that i am a becoming a fan of her style and stories.

theres just something so effortless about her writing. there is a nice, easy quality when it comes to the prose and the flow of the dialogue is quite natural. i think this is such an asset when it comes to the type of stories she tells, because the simplicity of the writing strips away any distractions and allows the reader to focus on the heart of the story in a very effective way.

i loved being able to read about sydneys ability to adapt to a really trying situation and also how she was able to learn about herself and grow along the way. one of my favourite things was even though she admitted that she had changed and made new friends, she still understood the importance of those who were in her life before and didnt lose touch with her old friends. i thought that was really neat.

and even though i enjoyed this, there were a couple of tiny issues that i wanted to briefly mention. as much as i loved the characters, they just felt very familiar. im pretty they could easily be swapped out and put in another sarah dessen novel and i wouldnt even be able to tell the difference. also, the ending felt a little rushed. there were so many complex issues discussed within the plot of this book and it felt like they were all resolved within the last chapter? just a little anticlimactic for considering the time put into reading this.

overall, this was your standard YA contemporary filled with growth, friendship, romance, family, and everything in between! perfect for those looking for a light and easy read that has some depth to it!

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,030 reviews1,045 followers
January 29, 2016
3.5 stars

“You really only fall apart in front of people you know can piece you back together.”

This is my first Sarah Dessen book and if the author is a consistent writer, then judging by the way she wrote this novel, I could say that she is one of the most wonderful, wholesome YA writers out there. The narrative is very simple but endearing. It has something in it I can’t explain that makes you feel close to home. It isn’t trying to emotionally overwhelm you. It is simply just telling you a lovely story. There are more than four hundred pages to the book and that's kind of long for a YA contemporary novel but this didn't feel long at all. I was actually surprised it has already ended.

The main character, Sydney, is genuine and relatable. She is what mainly gripped me to the story. I like how she is portrayed as a good girl through and through despite being constantly neglected by her parents. I also took note of the components of the entire story having this really strong connection with one another collectively putting across a unified, very significant meaning. Even the book cover is meaningful. There is the right amount of romance, suspense, and family drama which isn't the overwhelming kind. Finally, even though the plot was not designed to be intense as it mainly portrays how a young girl has lived in the shadows of her older brother whether what he did was good or bad, it was still a very absorbing read.

It isn’t a perfectly written story. Like many YA contemporaries, you’ll find some issues (not really major) unresolved but I like how there were proper resolutions to the main conflicts that needed to be resolved.

Thanks to Pearly for the recommendation. Check out her lovely review.
Profile Image for Era ➴.
215 reviews523 followers
May 10, 2022
“Saint Anything” was...good.

That’s the only word I have for it. It was good. It wasn’t stunning, wasn’t memorable, wasn’t bad. It was just good. I liked it, but I never really felt in the mood to read it. It was just a book.

This book was sold as “psychologically probing” and “poignant” but it just...wasn’t? There wasn’t a lot of thought-provoking content and I didn’t really think the deeper meaning sold itself. The plot covered a lot of great topics, and the book itself was enjoyable, but it just seemed too bland to me. I was hoping for something thoughtful and introspective, but I guess I should have lowered my expectations.

The plot was something I was interested in. This book follows Sydney after her brother Peyton is sent to prison after crippling a boy in a drunk-driving accident. Her family struggles with the reality that Peyton, the golden boy, is not so golden after all. In this wake of the court judgement, Sydney transfers schools and meets the Chathams - the family of a girl she befriends.

“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.”

Sydney is the girl used to being the height of normal. She’s white, comes from a pretty rich family, goes (went) to a private school, does gymnastics, gets great grades. All the basics. But after Peyton’s accident, she moves schools and meets new people.

The characters were pretty simple, but the side characters were so bland and I kept getting them confused. I just didn’t see the need for them.

Layla was nice and definitely provided a great relationship, but I feel like her character just fell towards the end. She was definitely good at the beginning, and then she kind of opened onto the rest of her family and...started dating a jerk. And then she just became Mac’s sister, or Sydney’s best friend, and didn’t get as much of a spotlight as herself anymore.

“All I want is someone decent.” She sniffled again, her eyes filling with tears. “You know? Kind. Good. Like in all those love stories I’m such an expert on. It can’t just be fiction. It can’t. Those guys are out there, I know it. I just can’t find them.”

Mac was okay. He was introduced as Layla’s brother at first, but then Sydney started liking him and I feel like the rest of his characterization was overdone and not really necessary. It felt like he pushed all the other characters out.

I would go into everyone else, but I don’t really remember them and I don’t feel like anyone else was that important. So this book didn’t have amazing characterization.

There was too much romance. Sydney was supposed to be falling for Mac, and it was supposed to be a sweet arc, but it was just too much for me. I came here wanting a look at the aftermath of an accident when your family was the one who is “the villain” of the scene. And I got this instead:

"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.”

I like that they both noticed each other and bonded over their need to not be the same way they always had been, but it just went too far for me.

“He had a nice smile. Seeing it, I felt like I’d won a prize, because he was so sparing with them.”

I also didn’t like the mindset about food it projected. This was a pretty minor plot point, but since I’m too conscious about my own eating habits (anorexia does that, even during/after recovery) I just had to see it.

Mac, when Sydney met him, was very different than he was in his middle school years. He’d lost weight and was much more attractive, apparently. But the way his diet was portrayed kind of just rubbed me the wrong way. He gave up all junk food and ate low-carb crackers for dessert...which, sure, is healthy if you eat enough and your mental health isn’t harmed by your food rules. But I just didn’t like how he restricted so much and had all these rules that he set - partly because when I did that, I did it wrong. Since this wasn’t touched on a lot and was used more for characterization than anything, I can assume it was healthy and didn’t mean a lot. It’s just that I feel like that wasn’t the best plot point to have in the book.

I did like a lot of the other themes this book carried. For example, Ames.

Ames was Peyton’s friend and a close friend of Sydney’s family. To the point that he came around basically every day, let himself into the house, etc.

He was really a disgusting character to me. The way he acted around Sydney was just so subtly creepy and concerning that you could tell something was off, and no one else was noticing it. And I loved that this was put in the book, because a lot of girls know that feeling. That feeling that someone is just a little too close, a little too nice. This was such an important thing to have in the book, and even though it deviated a bit from the plot, I would say it was definitely necessary.

The best part, in my opinion, was how invisibility and change were portrayed.

Sydney was used to being the quiet one, dealing with the pressure that everyone else placed on her without realizing it. With the shadow of Peyton gone, she should have been able to get her parents’ attention now - but now they’re focused on his prison time.

“I’d done the right thing. I always did. It just would have been nice if someone had noticed.”

It gets to the point that her mother tries to organize a potluck with Peyton and some of the other inmates and their parents, for one of their meeting days. Their parents were obviously trying to make things normal again, without realizing that things couldn’t be normal anymore.

I think a really interesting point was when Sydney finally talked to Peyton over the phone, without their parents in the picture. She learned how Peyton looked back on his running around in childhood with regret, saying that his act as the golden boy wasn’t worth it. Sydney was too used to Peyton being the one in the spotlight, doing everything that no one else would do in all the best and worst ways. And then there was Peyton, saying that it was stupid.

“You get used to people being a certain way; you depend on it. And when they surprise you, for better or worse, it can shake you to your core.”

I loved how lost Sydney felt, experimenting and trying to keep all of her old and new friendships tied together. It really showed how confusing the process of change is and how weird it is to transition. And I loved how the pressure on Sydney to stay the same, to stay constant, and just suck it all up was represented. Her parents were unintentionally burdening her, making her feel unneeded, after everything else.

“I would have loved to know how it felt, just once, to have something fall apart and see options instead of endings.”

This book covered healing and learning, personalities and the things that you don’t see. I loved how it dealt with misconceptions and mindsets. It covered a lot of relevant topics.

It just wasn’t enough. The characters were too bland, the plot ran out of direction the second it became romance, and the underlying themes were just that - underlying meanings that were brought out too obviously at the major points. This is a good book. It just didn’t deliver enough for what I was expecting.

To be completely honest, I kind of (not really?) regret buying this book. I will definitely be rereading it and it's definitely a good book. It’s just that there were other books I could have gotten that I might have been more invested in.

“That was just it. You never knew what lay ahead; the future was one thing that could never be broken, because it had not yet had the chance to be anything. One minute you're walking through a dark woods, alone, and then the landscape shifts, and you see it. Something wondrous and unexpected, almost magical, that you never would have found had you not kept going. Like a new friend who feels like an old one, or a memory you'll never forget. Maybe even a carousel.”
Profile Image for Madison.
311 reviews12 followers
April 22, 2022
Initial reaction:



I am beyond excited. This just made my day week year life.

I have been waiting for this news ever since Sarah published this blog post entitled "Abandoning. And listening." where she said:

I abandoned my book. I’m not a writer right now. But I am a mom and a wife and a daughter and hopefully a decent person. I am walking down my own mountain as the race, such as it is, continues on above me with great riders in the lead. I’ll get back to it someday. But for now, I’m following my own path. One step at a time.

So there may not be a book from me right on schedule in summer of 2015. And now you know why. I’m not sure if it’s the best idea to share all this on the internet, basically rolling over and showing my soft, tender underside to anyone who peeks in. Admitting your failures is no picnic. But this space, this blog, has always been a safe one for me, and I wanted you, my friends and readers, to know why I might not tweet or blog as much for awhile. I need to rest. I think my book was trying to tell me that: it just took me a long time to listen. I’m listening now.

Not being dramatic, I felt like my life as a reader was being totally crushed that day. It would be a similar to how one would have felt if you found out that they were not going to make the last Harry Potter movie.



*but not at Sarah Dessen, because she is perfect and I could never be angry with her. Just anger at the "situation."




And after that, I had to remind myself that it was just fiction. Just books.


But books are wonderful.


And these aren't just any books, and Sarah Dessen isn't just any author.


So I will wait for Saint Anything in 2015 with bated breath, and I will be reading it as soon as it comes out:


Reaction after reading the book:



I was so worried that I was going to hate this. It's not that I've ever read a bad Sarah Dessen book, it's just that her past two weren't my favorite and I had my concerns.


After reading the first reviews though, I grew more and more optimistic. I decided to just take the plunge and went straight for a hardback copy.


Soon I was sucked into the world of Sydney. While not the most interesting of Dessen's leading females, she is one of the most relatable for me personally. There are a lot of similarities between Sydney and Auden from Along for the Ride, who I immediately related to as well.


I appreciated that the main focus of this book was on personal growth. While most of her other books are too, they always share the limelight with romance storylines. Yes, there was a love interest, but it didn't take center stage. Instead there was a lot of inner reflection from Sydney's point of view.

Family drama. Sibling issues. Friendship struggles. Pressure in academics.

Check. Check. Check... and Check.

There was also a traumatic event that set everything into motion, one of which I can also sort of relate to not personally, but within my family and community. I liked how Sydney reacted to everything. It was realistic... awkward... tense... just as it should be.


And in the midst of all that, Sydney reflected on how she never felt "seen." Again, something else I can relate to. Of course people saw Sydney, but not for who she really was, just what they wanted her to be. It took her new friends to show her that it's okay to love the root beer suckers that everyone else hates... (But really, do most people not like those? Because they're one of my favorite flavors too!)


There were several similarities between Saint Anything and Dessen's previous books in terms of plotlines and character development, but was a little darker and more serious. There were still the telltale signs that it was a Dessen novel; however, it was just...

To best explain my feelings, I will take a direct excerpt from when Sydney's mom was trying out a new recipe:

"Here goes nothing," she said, shaking some in. More steam rose up, followed by another blast as the curry powder hit. She poked at the vegetables with her spoon, folding them over once, then again. "What do you think?"

"It's a change."

"That it is." She tossed in some more cumin, then leaned in close, taking a long sniff, then gestured for me to do the same. Hesitantly, I did. It didn't smell bad or good. Just new. Different.


**Oh, and if you ever meet an "Ames" in your own life, tell him my fist says hi. What a creeper!**

Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,725 reviews1,277 followers
May 8, 2015

“There is a weird thing that happens when something goes from a one-time thing to a habit. Like the problem is no longer a temporary houseguest but has actually moved in.”

This story started out good, but then it just bombed.

I felt really sorry for Sydney in this story. Even though it was her brother who was a drug addict and had nearly killed someone, her mother acted like Sydney was the bad guy, and her brother Peyton was a saint! She didn’t even care that he had nearly killed someone, or that he was in prison, she acted like the whole thing was one big injustice, and she really annoyed me.

“What was a fifteen-year-old doing out riding his bike at two in the morning anyway?”

The storyline in this started out pretty good, and I thought that Layla, the girl that Sydney met at her new school was a really good friend, and I hoped that things would go well for Sydney. After the 35% mark though things went really downhill. The pace was too slow, very little of interest happened, and Sydney’s parent’s actually got worse!

“I’m seventeen,” I told them. “I can stay alone for a weekend.”
“That’s not happening,” my mom told me. “I think we all know well what a lack of supervision can lead to.”

There was a little bit of romance, but it didn’t appeal to me. When Sydney got a little bit interested in a certain boy I was just like ‘where did that come from?’.

“Had I really just almost kissed him?”

The ending to this was okay, but I was pleased that the book had ended really. This book was so promising in the beginning, but it just lost its way, and lost my attention.
6 out of 10
Profile Image for Anna.
371 reviews474 followers
February 18, 2015
I totally read this and was so engrossed I missed my stop on the train and had to wait outside in 7-degree temperatures for 10 minutes for the next one back to my stop and pretty much froze my fingers off but it was worth it. That's all I'm gonna say 'cause it's way too early to do a full-on review!
Profile Image for ambsreads.
656 reviews1,395 followers
September 19, 2016
Saint Anything was a book I wasn't expecting a lot from. I've read a Sarah Dessen book before, and honestly, it just wasn't for me. I didn't fall into it and love the characters or even care about them after the book. So, as I write this review I've decided to lower my star rating to 2. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy this book because I did. I mean, the beginning even had me like


and the side characters had me going


However, the story quickly went downhill for me. I mean, I stopped reading in order to do my investigative report on koalas (don't ask). I mean, what does that say? I really felt that Sarah lost her grasp on the story as it continued, with extra plots falling in that weren't needed and just to make the characters go through more trials. This lead to me being completely underwhelmed around the 80% or so mark and wanting to slam my head against a wall. This meant that I honestly didn't care about the completely open ending.





“Everyone, this is Sydney,” she’d announced the day after our talk when I finally gathered up the courage to accept her invitation to join her and her friends at lunch. “She transferred from Perkins Day, drives a sweet car, and likes root beer YumYums.”

The gif of Hermione I have used for this particular character, our main character, is completely representative of my feelings. I liked Sydney enough to clap for her, but she was boring enough that I have no reaction to it. I personally felt that Sydney had little to no personality. She was constantly doing what others wanted her too and whereas other characters had things they enjoyed doing she did not.

There was also the fact that she was passive as hell. What does this mean? She wouldn't stand up for herself. In any situation. She wouldn't even attempt to stand up for herself. She would try, once, and then stop altogether. Sydney didn't even tell her parents that she felt uncomfortable around her brother's best friend, who made me feel icky. It may just be because I have a close relationship with my mum but I would have told her instantly if that happened and she would make sure that person was no longer in our lives. I just hated Sydney's parents, but that's another story completely and I don't want to talk about it in this review.

Sydney had a thing about being invisible. I didn't get it, and Sarah didn't really write it too well. I mean, I just couldn't grasp why she was invisible. Because of her brother? I just felt it was an annoying plot line that only came up when Sydney needed reassuring she was pretty or something by Mac.



“The first time you came into Seaside,” he said. “You weren’t invisible, not to me. Just so you know.”

The point of Mac is obviously to be the love interest, but I would have preferred the book from his perspective. He was a lot more interesting than Sydney in the way that I could relate to him, I can't relate to people who tend to have a lot of things given to them (Sydney). I liked Mac. He was a great character, who was given a personality, unlike Sydney. However, I did prefer his sister Layla over him. That's a whole other review.

Mac was a great character in the fact that he brought light into Sydney's life. But, I found my annoyances. He was so conscious about his weight and what he ate, and everything he ate had to be mentioned which made this book tedious in some sense. I don't care that Mac is eating grapes or celery or crackers with hummus. What does this add to the plot? I personally thought he had an eating disorder and that would be a problem that rose, but no. He was a fat kid turned skinny. I can understand wanting to keep the weight off, but why was Sydney mentioning it every time he ate?! Then he ate a packet of chips and she told him not to? No thanks.

Despite how ranty I am getting, I did enjoy Mac as a character. His family was great.

Also, there's a merry go round behind the woods near his house. Do I want to say, how freaking random is that? The merry go round gets mentioned a total of about four times before it's forgotten. I honestly expected it to feature a bit more considering the fact it's on the cover.

By merry go round I mean something like this, is it called something different if it has horses and all that?



The plot, the big one, I didn't mind. This was because the romance wasn't at the forefront of everything. It took a backseat. But, mini plots kept popping up everywhere. Literally, everywhere. They added nothing to the characters and, in fact, kind of ruined them for me.


The writing felt disjointed. We were meant to know that Sydney liked Mac, and I think we got two sentences before they were kissing. That doesn't happen for a while in the book, but still. These characters showed no inkling of liking each other at all. That was the trend the book followed, random things happening without much explanation, or things moving way too fast to the point I was confused as to where that happened.



Overall, this book felt slightly messy to me. Too much happened and not a lot of explanation was given for many things. Everything that could go wrong with these characters did. Now, a gif to round it all up.


EDIT: there was communication in this book as well, which I loved. I forgot to say that.
Profile Image for Shannon A.
674 reviews530 followers
September 15, 2016
I genuinely loved this book. It's always so refreshing to read a true heartfelt contemporary when it's done right. This books took its time, we really developed the characters and then the story just soared. I was a fan of Sydney from the first page. She was a girl that any of us would relate to and her family's story was unique and will touch a lot of hearts. Dealing with family members who are incarcerated is an issue I haven't seen tackled in a lot of YA and I found the story so poignant and important. I LOVED the Cathams and everything they represented. This story and its characters captivated my heart and I laughed, I cried and I 100% recommend this book! 5 stars!
Profile Image for Rachel Maniacup.
153 reviews79 followers
October 12, 2015
This is my first of Sarah Dessen novel,and I've heard so many great things from my friends about this author(especially from my friend PINKY),who also pushed me to read this and finished a lot more of Sarah Dessen.

The story is about a 17 year old young lady named Sydney Stanford(who came from a wealthy family),who is anguished with guilt over what his older brother(Peyton),
did to a young bicyclist boy who he had severely injured in a drunk-driving accident,who is now on wheel chair. In short,Sydney is living in her older brother's shadow who is now serving his time in jail.

The story also revolves around a creepy guy,a family friend of the Stanfords who I feared from Sydney's safety. I didn't like how her parents,especially her mom hardly even noticed the creepiness of this guy,and I hated how they ignored and neglected their second child. My heart really broke for Sydney because her parents' focuse is on her older brother notably now that he ended up in prison.

The ending of this novel though,came a bit too easy,I felt like it was rushed that it disappointed me a bit.(I despise a story that ends abruptly),and it was kinda dragging but then,I did enjoy reading this.

What I really liked here is the story about friendship,love,family and finding your self..that even no one notices you,you do feel that you exist,and accepted by new friends and by a warm and caring family that I found in Chatham family (a simple,but a happy family that I adored
so much,especially Layla,Mac and their mom).

To my friend PEARL, thank you so much for recommending this to me..
To my friend PINKY, I would definitely read some more of SARAH DESSEN,to really know her so well through her writings.^^

Profile Image for Stacey (prettybooks).
515 reviews1,547 followers
December 12, 2015
Saint Anything was the final book on my summer reads TBR (even though I started it in September...) and I'm so glad it ended on a high. A novel about 'family, self-discovery and change', Saint Anything was a spectacular end to the summer.

Sydney feels invisible compared to her accomplished older brother Peyton, even when his rebellious behaviour ends in a tragic accident that leaves a boy in a wheelchair and Peyton with a prison sentence. Left feeling angry and guilty, Sydney can't understand why her parents only care about Peyton's well-being. To get away from being known only as his sister, Sydney starts a new school and stumbles into the chaotic life of the Chatham family. She becomes close friends with siblings Layla and Mac, who work in the family pizza place. As she spends more time with them, Sydney finally begins to explore who she is.

Saint Anything may be sold as a contemporary romance story – the slow-building romance between Sydney and Mac is wonderful – but I adored watching Sydney discover who she is outside of her brother's shadow. Sydney constantly struggles with what Peyton has done. She is compassionate, thoughtful and feels guilty on behalf of her brother; she bears the weight of the world on her shoulders. Sydney wants to put everything right, but feels powerless to do so. Enter, the Chatham family.

The Chathams are the sort of family we all wish we knew. Even though they barely know Sydney, they accept her straight away into their close-knit circle. It's here that Sydney finds support and discovers that even though the family has their own problems – from older sister Rosie's drug conviction to their mother's daily struggles with multiple sclerosis – they keep on going, and they'll happily take Sydney with them.

It wasn't until I finished the book and was persuading Debbie to read it that we noticed how similar it was to My Life Next Door , another summer read that I adored this year. But even though the stories may echo each other, they're both full of unique, colourful characters and have a very different feel to them. I adored both, and they're up there with my favourite young adult contemporary stories. Perfect for all seasons, Saint Anything is a brilliant story about one girl's determination to be herself.

Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!

I also reviewed this book over on Pretty Books.
Profile Image for Kristina Horner.
157 reviews1,812 followers
May 9, 2015
It had been a long time since I read a Sarah Dessen novel, but the cover on this one really caught my eye. I know, I know. Judging a book by its cover. But it's so pretty!

I was a bit torn on this book. I enjoyed it, but it was a little slow for me. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, and a lot of various different plotlines that I didn't feel added up to a whole.
High school can be a tumultuous time even without your brother landing himself in prison, but I often felt like I wasn't sure which plotline to care about the most. Sydney's relationship with her parents? With her old friends from her previous school? Her diminishing relationship with her brother? Her new relationship with the Chathams? The Chatham mom being sick? Layla's shitty boyfriend? The blink-and-you-miss-it issues with Eric's momentary crush on her? The Mariposa girl whose purpose only seemed to be pushing Sydney and Mac closer together? The fact that Ames was so creepy all the time, and Sydney never once tried to tell her parents? Rosi's issues? There was so much.

I really did like the discussion of guilt and loneliness in this book, and thought both were executed quite well, but sometimes it just felt like there were too many plot lines to really focus on any one with significance. It felt like it was trying too hard to hit all the bases, when that just detracted from doing any of them justice.

Especially the whole symbolic saint thing. I actually really did like the concept of "Saint Anything", but Mac's necklace and the resulting yearning Syndey felt for wanting her own saint unfortunately felt very shoehorned in. I also wish the carousel had been in more than one scene, because it was cool, and that cover made me want to read this book in the first place.... and the fact that there's an ABANDONED CAROUSEL in the woods is deserving of more than one little midnight jaunt in the woods.

Also I was constantly hungry while reading this book, and craved nothing but pizza and french fries for the duration of my reading of it. I think it lost a star simply for that. :P

Anyway, I appreciated the important topics discussed in this book, but I wish she'd picked a couple and focused on them more. I think the Ames storyline could have used its own book. Same with Layla's boyfriend, and Sydney's obsession with David Ibarra. I just wanted more. :)
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,156 reviews641 followers
April 17, 2015
Saint Anything is a perfect example of Sarah Dessen’s ability to pen a worthy Young Adult contemporary that’s filled with a great cast and a story that allows for a sense of connection.

In this novel, we meet Sydney who has always been overshadowed by her bigger-than-life older brother Peyton. Having the spotlight on him was the norm to her existence and that included her parents doting constant attention on him despite his transgressions. So when Peyton is charged with a drunk driving conviction that leaves a fifteen year old boy paralyzed, Sydney finds herself lost and not quite sure how to adjust to the new family dynamics. She ultimately makes a drastic decision to switch from her small private school to Jackson High School to alleviate some financial pressure on her parents, and this is where she meets the Chatham family.

Making new friends and redefining what’s important to her, Sydney finally gets a chance to feel a part of something and for once be noticed. The bond she creates with Mac and Layla opens Sydney’s eyes to true friendship and familial connection, which is always a good feeling to experience when reading one of Dessen’s novels.

As with most of her other books, I absolutely love how Dessen doesn’t feel the need to make a romance the center of her books. She places more of an emphasis on friendships, family dynamics and character self-development, which was clearly evident in this book.

The light romance between Mac and Sydney was fun to witness because it was so subtle, yet meaningful. I enjoyed their scenes together, but most of all I appreciated what they came to mean to each other. The saint charm he gave her was a nice gesture because I know how much something like that means to those that believe in protectors. Very heartwarming.

Overall Saint Anything was signature of Dessen’s ability create a meaningful story about family and friends. I enjoyed this book from beginning to end.
Profile Image for Sue (Hollywood News Source).
781 reviews1,594 followers
May 5, 2015
Review also posted at Young Adult Hollywood. You can enter to win The Moon and More Paperback.

Saint Anything follows the story of Sydney, whose older brother is in prison for drinking and driving that left a boy paralyzed. Sydney finds herself transferring to public school to help her family lessen their expensive bills. This is where she meets the family of the Chathams. They are wild and spontaneous and they introduce Sydney to a world full of ride and self-discovery.

It’s been forever since I’ve read a Sarah Dessen novel. She wrote one of my favorite contemporary books, Lock and Key. And as expected from Dessen, Saint Anything is a pleasing read. Just not her best work. I like it, but I was underwhelmed with the story.

I gravitate towards books that highly focus on family and friendship, but Saint Anything felt like it was trying too hard. I enjoyed the introduction, but unfortunately my attention started waning. I stopped paying attention and I wanted it to be over.

The good thing about this novel is it makes me want to eat pepperoni pizza (my favorite) and fries!

Verdict: Despite my reservation towards this book, the writing is lyrical and it might appeal to contemporary junkies, especially to Dessen’s fans.
Profile Image for Jaime Arkin.
1,422 reviews1,325 followers
May 21, 2017
4.5 stars

I was trying to explain what I loved most about this book to my lovely friend Meg the other day… I knew when I struggled with that, that I was going to struggle with writing my review.

I rambled on about how I have only read a couple of Sarah Dessen’s books… I’d liked them but they weren’t anything that really stuck with me.

This however… this was different.

And I knew it was going to be different from the very first chapter.

Sydney… always admired her charismatic older brother, but as they got older, his behavior became more concerning and more dangerous and ultimately leads to an accident and a jail sentence. While her parents focus on Peyton and what they can do to make his time in jail more tolerable, Sydney struggles with the guilt that she feels her family should instead be focusing on. Determined to start fresh, she transfers from the private school she attends to the local public school and tries to disappear in the flood of students who have no clue who she is or what her brother did.

A random stop at a local pizzeria introduces her to Layla and Mac and the Chatham family… owners of the pizza place.

The dichotomy of Sydney’s family to that of Mac & Layla was reminiscent of that of Sam & Jase in My Life Next Door, and I think that is part of what I loved about them so much. Where Sydney’s family is reserved and concerned about appearances, the Chathams are loud and messy and chaotic and so different than what she is used to.

Ultimately this is Sydney’s story… her story of building friendships, hanging on to the ones that matter and finding new ones that are life changing. It’s about coming to terms with things in your past and finding the strength to create a future and of course there’s some romance… though that definitely takes a backseat in this story.

I found it hard to put this book down once I started… the story itself isn’t an easy one. Sydney’s guilt for the things her brother did was understandable… the anger Sydney harbored for her brother was understandable… the irritation at her parents for their lack of care for the family of the boy who was injured was understandable, but I really wanted Sydney to stand up for herself a lot sooner than she did. I wanted her to make her mom see who she was and acknowledge how she had been neglecting her needs and her feelings in order to coddle her brother.

I loved that the romance in this one took a back seat to the friendship for the most part. Layla and Sydney form an incredible friendship, one filled with bumps and bruises but when it comes down to it, they are there for each other no matter what. And while I say the romance takes a backseat, it’s still there. I loved the evolution of Mac and Sydney’s relationship because it was friendship first. Mac was such a wonderful leading man, his story was interesting and unique and a wonderful addition. Watching their friendship turn into something more was done so subtly and it was just lovely.

Dessen develops every character carefully and weaves them into the story… though I struggled a bit with the brother’s friend storyline, and why he was such a big fixture in Sydney’s mom’s life. That doesn’t mean it didn’t make sense… it’s just that parts of it didn’t work fully for me. I think we could maybe have done without it and the story would still have been amazing.

Dessen’s Saint Anything is a story of grief, guilt and loneliness… but it’s also a story of finding yourself and forging your way. Definitely my favorite of hers!

I could probably go on and on here, but I won't. I'll just say get this one as soon as you can and enjoy!
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,459 reviews8,560 followers
May 11, 2015
Saint Anything marks my first less-than-four-stars Sarah Dessen read, and I feel sad about that. While the novel offers Dessen's signature soothing detail and trademark spot-on voice, it lacks the emotional pull of her previous works, in particular when compared to stellar reads like The Truth About Forever and Just Listen.

Sydney has always felt invisible next to her older brother Peyton. Attractive and charismatic, Peyton has it all, until a series of missteps leads him to a drunk-driving accident that leaves a boy crippled. With Peyton behind bars, Sydney's parents hound him with their attention, and in her loneliness, Sydney turns to the Chatham family, an open and energizing group who own a pizza parlor. She befriends Layla, a girl her age with a lot of boy trouble, Rosie, Layla's older sister with secrets of her own, and Mac, a soft-spoken guy who helps Sydney speak up for herself.

Reading Sarah Dessen always feels refreshing. Even though her stories always focus on middle to upper-middle class white female-identifying individuals, she brings such consistent detail and comfortable dialogue that Sydney and her situation come across as realistic and grounded. Dessen has a knack for writing about day to day life - even when her characters have conversations with so little substance, she manages to entertain and enthrall, in a quiet and nostalgic way.

However, I wanted more intensity from Saint Anything. The interpersonal dynamic within Sydney's family and Sydney's relationships with the Chathams could have packed more punch. Dessen could have delved deeper into the gritty emotional details from page one: Sydney's mother and the turmoil she feels, the strain that Ames put onto the family, and the overall emotional toll that both Peyton's presence and absence exerted onto Sydney and her parents. I felt as if Dessen skirted around the core pieces of the story in favor of small talk and pretty prose, only to wrap everything up within the last 50 pages. Expanding Sydney's voice and her growth across the entirety of the book could have made her and the other characters more real, grabbing, and meaningful.

Overall, a solid novel about a young woman who starts to find her place after feeling invisible for a long time. Perhaps my three-star rating comes as a result from my high expectations of Sarah Dessen: either way, I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary YA, as well as to dedicated Dessen veterans.
Profile Image for emily.
192 reviews501 followers
July 12, 2015
I just loved this book so much I feel like my heart is overflowing. I loved how it wasn't a total romance, that it dealt a lot with the consequences of horrible actions and how they effect everyone, it dealt with friendships and guilt and I loved how the theme of being invisible versus being seen kept popping up. That one was really close to home for me. There was just something about the characters and the writing and the general atmosphere of this book that made me fall in love with it. Maybe it was because it felt so real. Everything did; the actions the characters chose the make, the dialogue, the way people reacted to things. It all felt very realistic. This is weird for me because I can't tell you what made me love this book with 100% certainty. I just know that while I read it my chest was brimming with emotions that spilled over and out at the end of the book.

Anyway, I just loved this. Just loved. If you've thought about reading this even just once, do it. Honestly just do it, it's so worth it.
Profile Image for Dayla.
2,067 reviews201 followers
May 6, 2015
Review also appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7

I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sarah Dessen is one of those authors that I tend to read immediately without even thinking about it. Though her last couple of books haven't been my favourites by her, Saint Anything not only showcases just why I love Dessen's writing, but it also proves that Dessen still has that something that makes her such a favourite.

Saint Anything is incredibly addictive and introduces moments that are both disturbing and heartfelt. Much like Dessen's past coming-of-age tales, she introduces characters that are flawed and situations that may mimic reality for various readers. The tone is a bit dark, but not as dark as some of her past novels. It's got the romance, the friendships, and the self-discovery/growth that we always crave from Dessen's books.

Sydney, the protagonist, starts off a little bit shaky. Her introduction is set in the past as she recounts the consequences of her brother's illegal actions. At first, I was a bit confused as to why it would start this way, in such a choppy and admittedly confusing matter, but then it hit me: Sydney is putting her brother, Peyton, ahead of her because everyone has always looked to him first rather than her. From the very beginning, Dessen is showing us her protagonist's personality. This whole novel is a bit of a struggle for Sydney as she tries to leave behind the shadow of her brother's large personality.

Sydney is also the kind of character that you can't help but like as well as kind of dislike. I mean, some of the situations that she's in could be solved if she just spoke up. The dangers of character development come in when the reader is forced to patiently wait for the character to get their crap together. As a very outspoken person, I would have kindly told Sydney's mother to shut up and listen to what she's telling her daughter. But of course, sadly, we have no way of entering these fictional worlds and slapping jerky characters into shape. That Dessen can make me feel such intense emotions is brilliant.

So, going off of that, Sydney is a great character because she grows into a sure character who understands that life may never be perfect, but she can still have a voice during the imperfectness of it all. Even with her new budding friendships, she learns to be the kind of person she's never allowed herself to be. Sydney is also the embodiment of a lot of issues plaguing teen society right now, such as depression. Also, I loved her relationship with her brother. Peyton is obliviously not the kind of sibling one should idolize, so it was obvious that Sydney wasn't going to follow in her brother's footsteps. The reason why I loved the relationship so much was because of how he didn't push her to connect with him. He didn't want her to see his new reality, but he let her come to him on her own.

The one main thing that I wasn't too keen on was the dramatic way her mother behaved. Understandably, everyone deals with things differently and everyone has their flaws, but I still extremely disliked her mom--which goes back to Dessen being skilled at bringing up these emotions in readers. Keeping that in mind, the difference between Dessen and other contemporary authors is that she doesn't pull any punches. By the end of her novels, there's no magic moment that makes everyone into a better person. Sure, there's character growth, but the basic aspects of a character's personality isn't changed for the sake of having a happily ever after. A character who started out with a major flaw, ends up with the same flaw, just slightly tamed and more aware.

There's a specific topic in this book that creeped me out and there's an article that Dessen wrote for "Seventeen Magazine", which you can find here, that kind of explores said topic. This issue is probably the real dark part of Saint Anything and I actually had to stop for a moment to kind of pull myself out of that dark situation.

I was so happy by the end of this novel because I finally had that book glow that only a Dessen book can give me. The romance was sweet and occasionally unpredictable, the secondary characters were great (whether I liked some or not), and the story itself was intriguing and very compelling. It was almost impossible for me to put this down and just near-perfect. So. Good.

I recommend Saint Anything to fans of contemporary fiction. I always recommend Sarah Dessen books to readers who enjoy John Green, especially because of how good Dessen is at taking the every day and making it into something special in her novels.

Happy reading!
Profile Image for Mariah Roze.
1,019 reviews921 followers
October 1, 2018
Sarah Dessen was my favorite writer when I was in High School & because of this I've been trying to read all her books and to still never miss one. She has a fantastic way of covering really hard topics and themes for high schoolers. I highly suggest her books.

"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."
Profile Image for Brittany.
586 reviews53 followers
May 14, 2015
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

Not my favorite Sarah Dessen book but I still liked it. Full review to come.
Profile Image for Pinky.
508 reviews352 followers
August 3, 2015
Before I start this review, I just wanted to say that it's funny how I read Maybe Someday before this and both books have the main character named as Sydney. :) Okay I know it's weird but I HAD to mention this... Okay, on with the review.

I didn't expect this book to be so real and so intriguing, it just surprised me. This is my first Sarah Dessen book and I really enjoyed it and I'm hoping to pick another one of her books really soon. If you read any other books by her and really loved it, please recommend it to me! I NEED MORE MORE MORE! This book is one that I will never forget, it was so amazing and I finished it in 3 hours!

Sydney is a 17 year-old teen who is going through a very rough time. She's felt like she was invisible for her entire life and felt like no one cared for her. Sydney's brother Peyton, on the other hand, has all the attention and lately has been acting crazy. Surprisingly, he returns home drunk, after driving his car and hitting a boy who was riding his bike. Since he hit this boy, he had to go to the police and is sentenced to stay in jail for 17 months. Although none of this was Sydney's fault, she feels pain and guilt for what her brother has done. For a change, Sydney decides that she needs to move schools and later meets Layla. Layla is one of the members in the Chatham family, who are all amazing people. Mac is Layla's older brother, who is really nice and protective over people he cares about. Sydney needs people who are always there for her and people who wont judge her. Are Layla, her family and friends the perfect people to help Sydney out?

I really enjoyed this book and I never put it down until I finished. It's been a long time since I really got into a story to a point where I felt like the main character. But since I was, I couldn't help but feel everything Sydney ever felt and it hurt at times. (That's a good thing by the way!) And it felt so nice to feel like I belonged in the story, it was a very nice ride! Everything felt so real and when I finished the book, I hadn't realized I finished. I was flipping the pages and it went straight to the end of the book. It's crazy at how involved you could get with a book.

The characters were one of the best parts of the book. Sydney was one of the characters who I could relate to in so many ways but sometimes, she made horrible decisions. Layla is amazing and I wish I had a friend like her in real life, but sometimes, she gets too caught up in other things and might forget you. (I still like her though!) Mac is an amazing older brother, friend and other things, he is always there for you and has your back and very protective! :) Eric was hilarious and I really liked his character, even when he is a little annoying. Spence is so annoying, UGH! Although we didn't get to see much of Peyton, I think he is a nice guy but I just don't like him. And Ames, a creepy guy who I would never want to meet and if do, I WILL PUNCH HIM SO HARD UGH! He is one of those creepy stalker characters who parents think are sweet and always keep him around. Sydney's parents were so frustrating and I hated how they treated Sydney, even if it was for a good cause. Layla and Mac's parents are easy-going and very nice people.

The bonds between the characters were nice to read about and experience. Like the bond between Layla and Sydney, it was nice to see how their friendship developed. Another nice bond was between Mac and Sydney and it was sweet to see how their relationship moved forward. When Sydney was talking to Layla's mom, it was the perfect bonding moment, I really like Layla's mom. I hated how the bonding worked between Sydney's mom and Sydney because of the fact that her mom would never listen to anything Sydney had to say. She always took privileges away from Sydney because she is in a bad mood or feels like Sydney isn't safe. I wanted Sydney to tell her mom how she really felt and explain why she feels unsafe at home, but whenever she tries, her mom never gets the sign. Sydney's dad doesn't do anything, he never buds into the conversation between Sydney and her mom and it ANNOYED ME SO MUCH! But I really liked how all of this made the story more realistic and it was so easy to relate to.

The character development was really interesting to see, Sydney changed so much and found herself and who she really was. I hated how the book ended because I wanted to read more, I wish I got to read all the details of her conversation. That's the only thing that really upset me, I just wanted to read more! Why can't contemporary reads be a little longer???? The plot was nice and smooth and I enjoyed it so much.

I highly recommend this book, if you need a sweet, short read that you want to finish in one sitting with a person who finds them self. It was a fun, fast-paced novel with a dab of romance and it was my first Sarah Dessen book. If you haven't read anything by Sarah Dessen, I highly recommend this book, IT'S SO GOOD!!!!!!!!
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,236 reviews26.6k followers
June 13, 2016
This is my 2nd Sarah Dessen book and once again I'm left feeling disappointed. Sarah Dessen isn't a bad writer, in fact, I think she writes very nicely and fluidly. I just don't ever care about her characters and I didn't feel one single emotion towards any of them. This book is about a girl named Sydney, who feels "invisible" and should've been completely relatable. Her older brother Peyton goes to jail because he paralyzed a 15 year old boy when he was drunk driving, and this event obviously takes a toll on Sydney's family. But Sydney's Mom behaves as if her brother is just in high school and not prison and she acts like Peyton didn't do anything that bad.

Sydney's mom is the biggest bitch and she's so controlling and overprotective to the point where it's almost unbelievable and absolutely ridiculous. She only got worse throughout the course of the book and I got so pissed any time Sydney had a conversation with her. All Sydney's Mom talks about is Peyton this, Peyton that and the only time we see her in this book is when she's talking to Peyton on the phone or planning to go see Peyton or just talking about Peyton in general. Then Sydney does one stupid thing and Sydney's Mom just unleashes hell on her as if she's the fuck up kid who's currently in prison. It's such double standards in parenting and I hate it.

The romance in this book was just okay. It came out of nowhere and they didn't have enough scenes together for me to ship it. Mac was an interesting character, but the romance between him and Sydney was just okay. The highlight of this book is Mac's sister Layla who becomes Sydney's best friend. She was so funny and the most relatable. Ames was a creepy ass character right from the beginning and I don't know why Sydney never told her parents how uncomfortable he made her.

The book got so slow around the halfway point, it just dragged on and on. It was all "building" towards a climax at the end that never came. I honestly feel like this story didn't go anywhere.

I don't really have much else to say, but Emily May's review accurately describes how I feel about this book.
Profile Image for Masooma.
69 reviews131 followers
August 31, 2015
I was pretty much over the moon that I was gonna be reading my 1st Sarah Dessen novel. But my final reaction when I slapped shut this book was:



1- An unusual pace: fast at times and very slow and dragged the other times.

2- An average story: kind of straight forward sans any twists and turns, not really my cup of tea.

3- An average description and minimum feels: for instance, when Dessen describes all friends hanging out together, I didn't get any feels. I wasn't excited when I had to be neither was I sad when I was supposed to be. So zero connection.

4- Weak characters: except for a few, most of the characters were hollow as though undecided maybe.

Mac was a good boy and that's it. He had no negative side. He was a mamma's boy + a believer + a hard worker + always at girls' rescue +silently doing what ordered by his dad + studious + his sisters' chauffeur. You see? No balance in personality.
Peyton was bad and that's all. He got from bad to worse to worst with no breaks.
Eric started off good, suddenly decided to be a spoilt brat. Excuse me? When did that happen?
Mr Peyton Stanford was deaf, dumb and mute who pledged on the bible to never ever interfere in family matters. In exchange, he was allowed to eat and eat and go for his business trips, oh and eat.
Mommy Julie Stanford, introducing the villain


Infinitely interfering, bossy and selfish. Ma'am where did all the motherhood go?
And Layla's mum, a fallen angel with a visible angel's crown on top.

5- Sketchy relationships: Sydney's relationship with her former friends, Jess and Meredith was full of holes, a half package which got in and out of the picture when need be. Layla's relationship with her boyfriend appeared unnecessary and silly as was the way they met. Mac and Sydney took a long long time to become one.

6-A rushed up ending: the ending was definitely put together in haste and it did not leave me satisfied.

The Plus though: the story zoomed in on the problems the second child faces when the elder one lands himself into trouble, how the child is neglected and becomes invisible. This was the part where I enjoyed Saint Anything. Feel for yourself:

My mom was already in bed, my dad shut away in his office on a call. I'd done the right thing. I always did. It just would have been nice if someone had noticed.

The best though, of course, were the pizzas.
Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
883 reviews252 followers
March 30, 2017
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

I received an ecopy of this book via First to Read in exchange for an honest review.

I've read almost every Sarah Dessen book and this one has to be one of my favorites! It was absolutely beautiful!

Sydney has always felt like she was in her older brother's shadow, but for the past few years her brother has been in and out of holding cells and escorted home by officers. Then her brother drives drunk and hits a teenager on a bike, paralyzing him for life. Now Sydney is known as the girl with the brother in jail. Sydney decides to move to a new school, away from the whispers, and ends up becoming friends with a girl, Layla, whose family works in a pizza shop. She gets introduced to Layla's brother and Layla's friends and Sydney begins to feel happy again. But her parents are too preoccupied to notice anything but Sydney's brother.

What I love so much about this book is how much depth is within it. This book has the usual coming of age tale that I expect from Sarah Dessen, but there's so much more to it. It has a strong aspect of family. Sydney's parents, especially her mom, become very controlling of Sydney in this book, as if she is her brother. They also see Peyton, Sydney's brother, as a victim and even act as if Peyton is away at school, not in jail. It is very infuriating the way they treat Sydney, but it's very realistic.

Sydney begins to live outside her brother's shadow. She's at a school where no one knows her brother's past and she has friends that like hanging out with her. It's hard for Sydney to have a life like this because of her parents who always seemed like they liked Peyton more, especially now. We really get into Sydney's life and point of view. Her character is very realistic! She has her flaws, but she's the girl that will always do the right thing and will always be there for her friends. Something her parents can't see. It's very beautiful, though, seeing Sydney change and grow throughout this book!

There is a romance, but this isn't a romance book. There is so much more to this book!

I love this book so much! I was so engrossed in this book! It was absolutely beautiful and it was amazing seeing Sydney and her growth! Really, I recommend this book for everyone!
Profile Image for Nicole.
731 reviews1,832 followers
January 25, 2016
3.5 stars

It started great then all the issues dragged on for too long.
Profile Image for Norah Una Sumner.
851 reviews447 followers
February 23, 2016
"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.”

This is probably one of those rare occasions when I think that a book was a bit too long.I liked the characters,especially Layla and Mac and their amazing mother.The main character is pretty great and I really wanted to see if her and her brother will solve their issues and maybe start behaving normally.I liked the music aspect of this book and I really enjoyed reading about Rosie-I simply loved the part where the author describes Rosie's haunting voice.However,Sarah Dessen always does one thing that irritates me - she always writes weird,obsessive,blind-to-their-kids-problems type of parents.Sydney's mother is seriously messed up,even Peyton realizes this.
“But this isn’t normal,” he replied.“I screwed up, I hurt someone, and I’m doing time for it. When she tries to make it anything else, it just . . . it makes me nuts. This needs to be different, you know? To be hard. Everyone else understands that. But she just doesn’t get it.”

It's a bit scary for how long they treated Ames like a long lost child.Apart from this,I didn't really have any more issues.I really enjoyed reading this book and I still love Sarah Dessen's writing style.


Overall,a really good contemporary book.
You can read this review on BookishFever.
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