“Saint Anything” captivates hearts of readers

Sarah Dessen’s twelfth book, “Saint Anything”, hit bookstores on May 5. All of Dessen’s books have different premises, however, they all contain a certain set of similarities. Often people and places in the novels go hand–in–hand with the ever present theme of music/bands and “hate Spinnerbait” are common motifs. While I am quite the Dessen fan, all of her novels seem to circle around the same plot ideas.

“Saint Anything” depicts the life of Sydney, a teenage girl and her family following a tragic accident. Peyton, Sydney’s older brother, had gotten mixed up in a bad crowd and he became involved with drugs , which eventually led to his admission to rehab. But one night, Peyton relapsed and decided to drink and drive, leaving another teen permanently paralyzed. With Peyton in jail and Sydney’s parents in denial of Peyton’s flawed actions, Sydney moves schools and attempts to start over where she meets the Chatham family. Throw in a few oddball characters, dramatic blow–outs and personal revelations and boom, another Sarah Dessen book.

While that may sound a bit harsh and it is true that all of Dessen’s novels feature different characters. Many of the stories occur in the same towns with the same coffee shops or even schools. Not only that, but Dessen’s books always focus on a teenage girl who is trying to cope with the aftermath of something in her life and along the way she tries to find herself. It’s an understandable motif as high school and the teen years are often seen as a time to find yourself. However, Dessen’s heroines always seem to find a guy along the way. Yet, in the end, the heroine must preserve her feelings and the male protagonist becomes more of an accessory.

Even with that in mind, “Saint Anything” does a great job of capturing high school. It touches on many sensitive topics that high schoolers face between social pressures, drinking and the consequences of others actions. Dessen explores the tension between a parent and teen and  the relationships between teenagers in a way that is not cliche but accurately represents high school. Dessen does not sugar coat and does not glorify anything in her stories.

Throughout the novel, she weaves in complex messages regarding sexual assault and stalking. While the plot is similar to other stories, each character is beautifully crafted with his or her own backstory, motives and personalities that make him or her memorable and the character’s story really stand out above the rest.

All in all, Dessen has created another wonderful work of high school fiction that actually sounds like a real life high school. Her well–developed plot line and carefully thought out characters help to make “Saint Anything” the memorable novel that it is. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys Dessen’s books, romance novels or even people who are just looking for something to read. “Saint Anything” will be sure to satisfy all readers.