In Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, Sydney has always lived in the shadow of her charismatic brother Peyton, that is, until he is arrested for a drunk driving incident that left a boy paralyzed. After switching schools, Sydney meets the Chatham family who accept her for who she is and make her feel noticed for the first time.
When it comes to Sarah Dessen, I definitely have my top favorites. While I think all of her books are extremely well-written and I would read them again and again, not many of her recent releases have lived up to my favorites. Saint Anything, however, includes a lot of the elements from my favorite Sarah Dessen books and stands out as one of my favorites among her most recent books.
One of my favorite parts of this book was Sydney’s relationship with her family and how her brother’s actions impacted all of their lives. Every character handles the situation in a different way which greatly impacts their family and the plot as a whole. Like Sarah Dessen’s other books, this story is very character-driven and Sarah Dessen does a great job with exploring every character’s emotions and motivations and showing how they grow throughout the book.
Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed were all of the side characters, another hallmark in Sarah Dessen’s work. Layla is a fun and interesting character who is incredibly fleshed out throughout the book. Mac is an adorable love interest and an all-around nice guy which I don’t see as much as I would like to in young adult fiction. Eric is also a character that I wouldn’t normally enjoy for his pretentious attitude, but provided a lot of humor to the book. The only character I wish the author explored more was Irv, who although added some comic relief throughout the book, definitely was the most underdeveloped.
I only have a few mixed feelings towards this book. While I like many of the classic Sarah Dessen elements in this book, some of them are very similar to elements in her other books. As a result, they don’t seem as original to me which makes the book stands out less compared to her other works. For example, Sydney and Layla remind me a lot of Macy and Kristi from The Truth About Forever. While there are definitely differences in their characters, Sydney and Layla don’t seem as dynamic in comparison. Additionally, while I liked the relationship between Sydney and Mac, it wasn’t anything unique or different than several other relationships throughout Sarah Dessen’s works.