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Saint Anything
Cover of Saint Anything
Saint Anything
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New York Times bestseller

A TIME Magazine Top 10 Children's Book of 2015

"Saint Anything is a poignant, honest story about how we might suffer the misfortune of someone else's bad choices, how people who love us can become family when we desperately need it, and how starting over might - miraculously - mean taking a solid leap forward." —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling novelist of Leaving Time and My Sister’s Keeper

Sydney has always felt invisible. She's grown accustomed to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of the family’s attention and, lately, concern. Peyton is handsome and charismatic, but seems bent on self-destruction. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, Peyton’s serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own, questioning her place in the family and the world.

Then she meets the Chatham family. Drawn into their warm, chaotic circle, Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time. There’s effervescent Layla, who constantly falls for the wrong guy, Rosie, who’s had her own fall from grace, and Mrs. Chatham, who even though ailing is the heart of the family. But it’s with older brother Mac—quiet, watchful, and protective—that Sydney finally feels seen, really seen, at last.

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.

New York Times bestseller

A TIME Magazine Top 10 Children's Book of 2015

"Saint Anything is a poignant, honest story about how we might suffer the misfortune of someone else's bad choices, how people who love us can become family when we desperately need it, and how starting over might - miraculously - mean taking a solid leap forward." —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling novelist of Leaving Time and My Sister’s Keeper

Sydney has always felt invisible. She's grown accustomed to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of the family’s attention and, lately, concern. Peyton is handsome and charismatic, but seems bent on self-destruction. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, Peyton’s serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own, questioning her place in the family and the world.

Then she meets the Chatham family. Drawn into their warm, chaotic circle, Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time. There’s effervescent Layla, who constantly falls for the wrong guy, Rosie, who’s had her own fall from grace, and Mrs. Chatham, who even though ailing is the heart of the family. But it’s with older brother Mac—quiet, watchful, and protective—that Sydney finally feels seen, really seen, at last.

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.

Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.7
  • Lexile:
    690
  • Interest Level:
    MG+
  • Text Difficulty:
    3

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Excerpts-
  • From the book


    CHAPTER
    1

    “WOULD THE defendant please rise.”

    This wasn’t an actual question, even though it sounded like one. I’d noticed that the first time we’d all been assembled here, in this way. Instead, it was a command, an order. The “please” was just for show.

    My brother stood up. Beside me, my mom tensed, sucking in a breath. Like the way they tell you to inhale before an X-ray so they can see more, get it all. My father stared straight forward, as always, his face impossible to read.

    The judge was talking again, but I couldn’t seem to listen. Instead, I looked over to the tall windows, the trees blowing back and forth outside. It was early August; school started in three weeks. It felt like I had spent the entire summer in this very room, maybe in this same seat, but I knew that wasn’t the case. Time just seemed to stop here. But maybe, for people like Peyton, that was exactly the point.

    It was only when my mother gasped, bending forward to grab the bench in front of us, that I realized the sentence had been announced. I looked up at my brother. He’d been known for his fearlessness all the way back to when we were kids playing in the woods behind our house. But the day those older boys had challenged him to walk across that wide, gaping sinkhole on a skinny branch and he did it, his ears had been bright red. He was scared. Then and now.

    There was a bang of the gavel, and we were dismissed. The attorneys turned to my brother, one leaning in close to speak while the other put a hand on his back. People were getting up, filing out, and I could feel their eyes on us as I swallowed hard and focused on my hands in my lap. Beside me, my mother was sobbing.

    “Sydney?” Ames said. “You okay?”

    I couldn’t answer, so I just nodded.

    “Let’s go,” my father said, getting to his feet. He took my mom’s arm, then gestured for me to walk ahead of them, up to where the lawyers and Peyton were.

    “I have to go to the ladies’ room,” I said.

    My mom, her eyes red, just looked at me. As if this, after all that had happened, was the thing that she simply could not bear.

    “It’s okay,” Ames said. “I’ll take her.”

    My father nodded, clapping him on the shoulder as we passed. Out in the courthouse lobby, I could see people pushing the doors open, out into the light outside, and I wished more than anything that I was among them.

    Ames put his arm around me as we walked. “I’ll wait for you here,” he said when we reached the ladies’ room. “Okay?”

    Inside, the light was bright, unforgiving, as I walked to the sinks and looked at myself in the mirror there. My face was pale, my eyes dark, flat, and empty.

    A stall door behind me opened and a girl came out. She was about my height, but smaller, slighter. As she stepped up beside me, I saw she had blonde hair, plaited in a messy braid that hung over one shoulder, a few wisps framing her face, and she wore a summer dress, cowboy boots, and a denim jacket. I felt her look at me as I washed my hands once, then twice, before grabbing a towel and turning to the door.

    I pushed it open, and there was Ames, directly across the hallway, leaning against the wall with his arms folded over his chest. When he saw me, he stood up taller, taking a step forward. I hesitated, stopping, and the girl, also leaving, bumped into my back.

    “Oh! Sorry!” she said.

    “No,” I told her, turning around. “It was . . . my...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 16, 2015
    Sydney Stanford and her family are devastated when her older brother, Peyton, paralyzes a local boy while driving drunk and is sent to jail. Sydney’s mother throws herself into supporting Peyton (while seeming to scarcely acknowledge his guilt), and Sydney switches schools, carrying heavy guilt on behalf of the injured boy, David, and trying to escape the damage Peyton has left in his wake. Sydney’s parents virtually ignore her as they navigate the complicated prison system on Peyton’s behalf, even inviting his older friend Ames into their home, his leering presence making Sydney uneasy. Sydney finds relief with her new friend Layla, Layla’s family and friends, and especially her handsome brother, Mac. Dessen (The Moon and More) delves deeper than ever into the complex dynamics of families suffering loss and confronting changes that upend everything. Once again, Dessen demonstrates her tremendous skill in evoking powerful emotions through careful, quiet prose, while delivering a satisfying romance. The author’s many devotees are sure to enjoy this weighty addition to her canon. Ages 12–up. Agent: Leigh Feldman, Writers House.

  • Kirkus

    March 15, 2015
    After her ne'er-do-well older brother, Peyton, is sent to prison, demure, obedient Sydney leaves her sheltered private school for a new start.Avoiding her family after her first day at Jackson High School, Sydney fortuitously stops for a snack at Seaside Pizza. There, she meets siblings Mac and Layla, who quickly befriend her. Sydney is drawn into the warm world of their family and the pizza business, and crisp, unusual details bring each character and set of relationships to life. At home, Sydney's mother throws herself obsessively into "supporting" Peyton and pressures Sydney to become as involved in visiting Peyton and talking to him on the phone as she has, without respect to either Sydney's or Peyton's wishes. Although Sydney's mother's character sometimes feels one-note, Sydney's frustration with her mother's willful denial and relative neglect of her is palpable and poignant. This tension shows itself most unsettlingly when Sydney's parents go out of town for a weekend and leave Sydney in the care of Peyton's friend Ames, whose sinister interest in Sydney is clear to everyone who pays attention. Overall, the story moves slowly and subtly, creating a rich emotional landscape and letting small changes-Layla finds a boyfriend; Sydney's mom and brother have a fight-ripple out gently. A many-layered story told with a light touch. (Fiction. 14-18)

  • School Library Journal

    April 1, 2015

    Gr 7 Up-Sixteen-year-old Sydney has always felt overshadowed by her handsome, popular, and troubled older brother Peyton. Now, he is in prison for a drunk driving accident that paralyzed another teen boy, and despite his incarceration, Sydney finds her mother's only focus is Peyton and that her dad has pretty much checked out of any decision making. When Sydney decides to leave her expensive private school and go to the local public school, her parents agree to allow the change. After her first day of school, she stops by a pizza shop where she meets brother and sister Layla and Mac, whose father owns the shop. In the duo, Sydney finds much needed acceptance. In their mother, she discovers a person she can talk to who will listen and give her the advice she craves. Dessen delves deeply into family relationships and roles. Because of Peyton's actions, Sydney's family is unable to handle what has happened. Layla and Mac's family also has its problems with a wayward daughter and an ill mother, but instead of being torn apart, they have drawn closer together. The contrast between the two families-economically and in their ability to function-provides added tension. Although this work is darker than her other romances, the light and joy of first love, friendship, and self-discovery remain important aspects of the book. VERDICT Taut, tightly structured with well-rounded characters, this novel is sure to please Dessen's many fans and attract new ones.-Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • DOGO Books sylvie55555 - This is a book by the author Sarah Dessen. Sydney is used to having her older Peyton get all the attention. First it was because of how amazing he was, and now it's for how much help he needs. So when Sydney finally gets seen she finally feels understood. But she wants Mac to be something more.. but she's not sure how Mac feels. What happens? Read the book to find out!
  • Booklist

    April 1, 2015
    Grades 8-11 When Sydney's brother, Peyton, was sentenced to prison after paralyzing a 15-year-old while driving drunk, it was the culmination of an escalating stream of lawless behavior. Sydney coped by closing in on herself, drawing away from her charming brother's popularitynow infamyand spending most of her time at home alone watching reality TV. After transferring to public school, she has a chance meeting with Layla, a whimsical and opinionated girl who works at her family's pizzeria with her handsome brother, Mac. Sydney finds herself inexplicably drawn to Layla, who becomes exactly the kind of fiercely supportive friend she needs as she struggles to carve out a space for herself in her mother's Peyton-centric orbit. As Sydney grows closer to Layla (and deliciously closer to Mac), her sense of agency and determination grows, too. In classic Dessen style, the book plumbs the depths of Sydney's interior life, lightening the mood with well-timed moments of witty banter, often between Layla and Sydney, whose friendship is the emotional centerpiece of the novel. Another incisive and sensitive character-driven story sure to please her many, many fans. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Dessen's hordes of fans probably already know about this novel and are lying in wait, lurking behind the corner of your circulation desk as we speak.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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    Penguin Young Readers Group
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