Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

saintI really like Sarah Dessen’s books, and if they all share a few too many of the same characteristics, I’m ok with that because I like her style of writing and I pretty much always like the story she creates.
So in this latest book we have Sydney as the main character. Her family set up is that they are wealthy and her mom is a micro-manager who expects a lot of achievement out of her kids and will do whatever it takes to make that happen.  Her older brother Peyton has always been a charmer, very charismatic, very popular. Sydney very much was in his shadow. And then continued to be in his shadow when he got attention for all the wrong reasons, ultimately landing in prison.  I found this angle of the story fascinating and new to me (I hate stories-movies, tv, books-set in prison, but this is different.) What must it be like to have a sibling/child commit an act that causes tragedy, grief, and guilt and results in prison? Sydney is the only one who struggles with what her brother did and the burden of carrying that guilt is immense. Fortunately, she meets [insert trope here] a quirky loving family who warmly accept her and provide her with not only a really good girlfriend, but also a handsome brother to the friend who Sydney can fall for. I have to admit, though, that just like Sydney I was charmed by the family as well. Especially because her own parents were sorely lacking by then.  I really had issue with what a shitty mom her mother was being. Unreasonable, driven, blind to her daughter’s situation.  I felt disappointed in Sydney that she didn’t say “hey! Quit it or I will turn out like Peyton!” Particularly because of how Sydney’s parents ignored how incredibly creepy Peyton’s weird friend, Ames was. To the point that I felt like they were setting her up to be raped and honestly, how guilty would her mom feel then?!
Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this story, the charming and quirky friends, and how Peyton and Sydney struggle to find honesty and healing.

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