Recently, I finished reading Saint Anything, a 417-page realistic book, by #1 New York Times bestselling author, Sarah Dessen. Sarah Dessen is also the author of eleven other novels written prior to the publishing of this book in 2015. Her most popular books, That Summer and Someone Like You, were actually made into a movie titled How to Deal. According to the inside flap of the book, “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. ” While reading this novel, I realized how powerful this message was from beginning to end. It was so clear the main character, Sydney, was lost and alone, but as the book progressed those feeling started to fade away. The reason why I chose to read this book was because it was actually a recommendation. I wasn’t so sure if I was going to like it, but as soon as I read this quote I knew I would enjoy it. My favorite types of books are those that are suspenseful, but most of all those that the reader can really see a change in the main character from beginning to end and reflect on what has happened to get the character to this point.
In the very beginning of the novel, the reader learns that Sydney is kind of stuck in the shadow of her big brother’s bad reputation. Since her brother has never been the kind of person to back down from a dare, people have dared him to do stuff that resulted in him going to jail. After everyone hears this they automatically judge Sydney and treat her accordingly. Sydney want so desperately to be known as the person she is and not what everyone thinks she is, but no one will forget what has happened. As a result, she moves from the local private school to the public high school for a fresh start. At first nothing changes, she still feels alone in her own world, with no one to talk to. Even her parents are to focused on her brother, Peyton, that they are oblivious to her needs and wants. That is until she meet a new group of friends at her school. The second she felt comfortable with them she tells her them about Peyton. At first she didn’t know how they were going to react, so she prepared herself for the worst. To her surprise, they did not judge her, disown her, or even interrogate her with a million questions. They seemed okay with it, because they shared the same experiences. They knew what it felt like, and because of this, they helped Sydney to move on.
I really wish the author had not ended the book where she did. In the end, the main character was just about to overcome her fear and completely move on from all the terrible feelings her brothers “Incidences” had caused her. In my opinion, I think the author should have either ended the novel a couple chapters back, where Sydney had reached the place where she was ready to overcome her fear, or add another chapter to the end with a more resolved ending in which everything is wrapped up. Even though the author ended the novel, in a terrible way, right in the middle of a conversation, I think there is a reason for this. Since novel is fairly new, I think the author was leaving the reader on a cliffhanger to lead into a sequel. If so, Sarah Dessen did a wonderful job at foreshadowing what might happen next.
In addition, this book reminded me a lot of The Hunger Games series. Although these novels are about two completely different topics with two unreliable genres, the structures of these books are very similar. For starters, the main characters are both strong independent women with a desire. Katniss wants so badly to protect her family, while Sydney just wants to be known for who she is. Throughout the books both characters grow and change based on outside influences. They grow stronger and stronger at every challenge that comes their way. They learn how to overcome their fears and stand up for what they believe in. In the end, they both changed into a person that they were meant to be.
In this book, I also liked the way the author included suspense. After almost every chapter, especially in the end, I couldn’t put the book down. There was always something revealed about a character or about Sydney that made you have to read onto the next chapter. Although there were many cliff hangers, this wasn’t the only way Sarah Dessen showed suspense. She often included the description of something before it was revealed as to what this something was. This gave you an idea and a mental image of what might be going on. The reader could then predict what Sydney’s reaction might be and how this will change the plot. All the suspense made the book more action packed and enjoying to read.
Finally, I was struck by this passage on page 252, ” You had on a shirt with mushrooms on it, and your hair was pulled back. Silver earrings. Pepperoni slice. No lollipop… The first time you came into Seaside Pizza…You weren’t invisible, not to me.” At this point in the novel, Sydney had not told anyone about her feelings of loneliness. She had not told anyone and yet he knew. This was the moment that Sydney started realizing that she was developing feelings for her best friend’s brother, Mac. This was the moment that Sydney also felt truly accepted for who she is. She felt like she belonged, which paved the path for the rest of her moving on process later in the book. What I liked about this passage, was how the author included short sentences that really proved the point Mac was trying to get across. If I were to rate this book I would give it a 10 out of 10, even with the poor ending I felt like I really connected with the main character.