let’s review: saint anything

saintanythingI’ve read Sarah Dessen books off and on since high school, and some are better than others. Something about reading them is nostalgic, I suppose, although I’m finding the writing to be less sophisticated. Saint Anything tells the story of Sydney, dealing with a shifting family dynamic as her older brother serves a jail sentence for drunk driving, this time injuring another boy. Sydney finds solace in friends at her new school, siblings Layla and Mac, who help run their family’s pizza parlor. Used to being second string as her family focuses on her brother, Sydney welcomes this second family she finds herself belonging to.

What Sarah Dessen books do well is the capturing of youthfulness: fitting in, balancing friendships, family dynamics and changes, identity, and budding romance. In Saint Anything, the meaningful metaphors Sydney realizes can feel contrived or a bit forced at times. There’s also several points of more telling than showing, or writing that feels somewhat lacking in places. However, I did still connect to Sydney’s story and became interested in how each relationship would progress—with her new best friend, friends from her old school, her interest in Mac, with her parents and her brother, and with the family friend Ames. Ultimately, the heart of a Sarah Dessen novel gets at the feeling of uncertainty in teen years, and the hope of belonging.

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