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Raw & Emotional | Book Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Emotions will run high in Sarah Dessen’s latest YA contemporary book, Saint Anything.

Book Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

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saint anything sarah dessen book review young adult book

Title & Author: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary

Release Date: May 5, 2015

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Penguin

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.”

The Serious Side of Sarah Dessen

Saint Anything offers a new side to the contemporary queen. This book tackles more serious and dark topics, but in a way that I found relatable and moving.

Sydney has lived her life in her brother Peyton’s shadow. Peyton is constantly in trouble and has finally done something to land himself in jail. And, Sydney and her parents are left with the broken pieces of their family.

This is the most raw and emotional of Dessen’s books that I’ve read.

Even though it was so hard to read at times, I appreciated that Dessen went there with the seriousness of issues and feelings of the characters.

To lighten the literary load, Saint Anything had some truly quirky and precious people. I loved Sydney’s new friend Layla and Layla’s family, the Chathams, SO MUCH. They are lovable and sweet and such great well-rounded characters.

Plus, in a book where so much is going wrong in one person’s life, I appreciated that nothing is ended in a way that is too predictable or cookie-cutter. Dessen ended things on a strong-but-realistic note.

My only critique is that I think Sydney wasn’t as vocal with her parents about her feelings as I would have thought someone in her position would be. That caused me a lot of frustration at times – feeling like she would have reached a breaking point much sooner.

That is obviously my personal analysis of actions, etc., and didn’t impair my overall enjoyment of the story.


I’m so happy I read this book. It deals with tough problems but ones I think readers will relate to regardless of their past. This story is real and raw and emotional. Dessen brings the pain and the joy, and I think Saint Anything is her best work yet – definitely recommended.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
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  • Classy_Girl

    You should read Sarah’s other dark-ish book, Dreamland. The subject matter, an abusive relationship, would have been too much in someone else’s hands but Sarah handles it with the necessary respect and tact.