By Emily Pooley
Growing up with siblings, you can sometimes feel looked over, unimportant or invisible. Sydney Stanford always felt like she was in her brother Peyton’s shadow. Now that he is in jail after a drunk driving incident, she still can’t seem to get the attention she needs from her parents. In Sarah Dessen’s latest novel Saint Anything, she writes “for all the invisible girls”.
I feel like I need to start this review by saying Sarah Dessen is easily my favorite author. I have read all of her books and think they are amazing. Saint Anything may be my favorite, but that could just be because it is her most recent (I can’t wait for Once and For All). I am the youngest child in my family and I really connected with Sydney, and similar to her, I always felt like there were expectations placed upon me, based on my siblings’ performances. Teachers would always have had my two older brothers and would have an expectation of how I would act or perform in their classes based on how they did. It was something I never liked and therefore I tried to do the opposite of them, as often as possible. Sydney also hates the view that her brother has painted for her. Unfortunately for her, Peyton began to act out, so her parents, her friends, and her peers all think that she is also going to do that. They never consider who she will be as an individual. Due to the money that her parents (mother) are shelling out for Peyton’s lawyers and other bills, they can’t afford the private school Perkins Day and enroll Sydney in Jackson High School. This is how she comes across the Chathams. From the first moment Sydney meets Layla Chatham she is drawn to her and wants to be her friend. Layla is a very welcoming and accepting person and pulls Sydney into their group of friends. This is also how Sydney becomes friends with Mac, Layla’s brother. Although he is very quiet and only concerned with studying and eating healthy, Sydney and him begin to grow closer when Layla gets a boyfriend.
One of the plot points that I really enjoyed in this book has to do with Ames, Peyton’s “best friend”, that is always hanging around trying to watch over Sydney for Peyton, although he was never asked. Ames makes Sydney uncomfortable, but she doesn’t know how to express this to her family or really anyone, because he has never done anything. This is something that I found very comforting and important to read. I think that society has become more understanding about women and feeling unsafe or being harassed. However, in most cases someone has to physically do something for people to take a stand and put a stop to the behavior. I feel that the reason, Sydney never felt comfortable talking about the vibes she got from Ames, is directly linked to the way society views the issue; if there is no proof, there is no issue. I think that it is very important for people to trust the feeling of wrongness that people or situations give them and talk about their feelings. You never know how confiding in someone can help you. I also like that while I feel the Ames’ storyline is important, it is not overbearing and doesn’t take over. The book deals with it but it is not about it.
I think this is a phenomenal story and would personally love a sequel to it (please Sarah Dessen, pretty please!). I read it in one night and if you love the classic “find yourself/love story” young adult novel, you will love this book and appreciate that it isn’t overly cheesy (unlike the many slices of pizza consumed at Seaside Pizza). You can purchase the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or better yet, check your local bookstore or library.
If you feel uncomfortable around someone, and are concerned about their intentions toward you, confide in someone you trust. Visit the Feminist Majority Foundation website to learn more about sexual harassment facts, and resources that you can use.