There’s always two sides to every story. We know that… But, what happens when the cover’s lifted and we live life with one side of that story? And, what if that side shows us the story of the kid sister of a teenager who’s been sent to prison for crippling a boy during a drunk driving accident?
Ish just got heavy, right?
So begins Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen. It’s no secret I’m a huge Dessen fan. I met her in May 2015 at a book conference and could barely speak to her I was that star struck. Her writing for teenagers far surpasses the mediocrity we so often allow our children to read under the auspice of “at least they’re reading.” Her storytelling mixed with character development allows readers of all ages to empathize with and grow from her novels. Dessen’s books are ones families can read, and discuss, together. THAT is a huge deal in a book market full of niche marketing with a slant toward the less-than-savvy reader. (My opinion only, obvi)
In her latest novel, Dessen dives deep into the aftermath of Peyton Stanford’s final act of rebellion that landed him in jail. His kid sister, Sydney, is the one left to pick up the pieces though. She’s the one who has to deal with parents too shell-shocked about one child to truly pour into another. The one who wants an identity outside of her troublesome brother, but isn’t sure what her identity is. The one who’s brave enough to start seeking even if she’s not sure for what she’s looking.
So, we as readers find ourselves discovering Sydney throughout the pages of Saint Anything. We see her flourish from a timid girl into a strong young woman. Dessen captures the simplest of moments… making a new friend, finding a new routine… and turns them into magic.
She also captures the intensity of what crisis can do to a family. The assumptions made once one child has broken the hearts of a family and how the ramifications of said child often falls on others in his wake. And how younger siblings often idealize their older siblings in a way that makes falling from grace that much harder.
Though you’ll find Dessen’s books in the young adult section of your library or book store, she’s truly an author for all ages. Grab some french fries and a slice a pizza… once you open this book, you won’t want to close it.