First things first, we have winners for the Literary Ladies Summer Reading Challenge, ya'll! We were astounded by the amount of people that finished or damn near finished within only a month, so congrats to all of you! Our winners are: Olya, Steph and Amy! But don't give up just yet - remember that wildcard prize we talked about way back when? Well that baby's still up for grabs! Just read all the book by September 21st when we'll chose a winner.
Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Main Plot: When your shining older brother is the center of attention, its hard to know where you belong. Couple that with said brother making a few serious mistakes that affect the entire family, and you get Sydney, who's world's been turned upside down. But when Sydney encounters a place where she can feel accepted and visible, that's where the story really begins.
If Rainbow Rowell is my homegirl now, Sarah Dessen was my homegirl back in high school. One of my best friends and I would read her novels together and gush over the male characters (re: Dexter from This Lullaby and Wes from The Truth About Forever). We were certifiably obsessed with Dessen's novels. So I knew I wouldn't hate Saint Anything. As expected, it was solid 4 star novel for me.
I've always loved how Dessen throws you right into the center of a problem from the start. It creates this 'rolling down a hill' in her novels that makes them hard to put down. She begins Saint Anything directly at the heart of the story, in the court room at the moment Sydney's brother is being sentenced. You don't understand why things are happening, aside from the basic 'he must have done something wrong', and you don't really know very much about any of the characters, but somehow you will a bit bad for them, the family. Without actually being told the ruling, you read about the shocked sobs coming from her mother, the blank stare worn by her father and the red ears of her brother that Sydney notes means he's afraid, and you feel like you know them already. Even the fact that Sydney doesn't actually hear the ruling (and so can't relate it to us) indicated something to us as readers about her character. I've always loved how Dessen pulls us into her stories and her characters so quickly.
As always, Dessen's writing is solid. It was easy to read but not elementary. Although she was writing from the point of view of Sydney, a 16 year old who feels invisible, her storytelling doesn't come across as melodramatic. In fact, I admire the way Dessen knows her main character so well. As someone who is currently struggling to find her characters voice, I'm learning to really appreciate when an author just 'knows her girl." Dessen's writing is calm and relaxed, comfortable. I like that about her books in general, and I like it about this one as well.
I also have to admit that I'm sure part of the reason I both like this book but didn't rate it higher was that it reminded me a lot of My Life Next Door, which holds such a special place in my heart. Like MLND, the main character is constantly overshadowed by an older sibling despite being a poster child, and finds solace in a big family who finally sees her for her. In some ways, this made me like the book more, or at least it made me more interested. I think I like this "trope", if you want to call it that, because I find that I relate to it. I don't have any siblings, but I know what it's like to feel like you are making all the right decisions and having all of that get overlooked. However, I think the similarity to MLND also hindered the story for me. It was a good story honestly. Intriguing, solid characters, well-paced, and as stated, well-written. But it was no MLND, and when setting the two beside each other, I couldn't help but think "I like this. But I like MLND more."
Don't mistake me though. Saint Anything is a good novel and it's definitely worth a read if the synopsis intrigues you. Not my favorite from Sarah Dessen so if you're looking to for an introduction to her books I'd go with This Lullaby or The Truth About Forever instead.
Did you read Saint Anything along with us? What did you think? Link your post below or leave a comment.
The Literary Ladies book for the month of August is - da, da, da, da! - In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume.
I'm a lurking reader. You know, that person who reads all the time but doesn't comment? It's not that I don't want to! I just usually read on my phone and hate commenting on my phone and then I forget to do it. Ugh, I need to get better I know. But this is why the Share the Love link-up hosted by Pam @ A Little Glitter is perfect for me to participate in. Share the Love is a great way to meet other bloggers and share posts that you love, and I'm all for it.
- How Our Past Comforts Our Present by Amber @ Mr. Thomas and Me - Aside from loving her "Coffee Dates" series, I simply love Amber's voice. Her writing style is so poignant and easy going, and I feel like I'm talking to an old friend. This post in particular inspired me recently. Also, sign up for her newsletter - you won't be sorry.
- Current Events in One Sentence by Brittany @ Your Friend Brittany -Brittany writes a variety of posts, including book reviews!, but I really liked this post about current events because it was such an interest way to format it. I seriously want to copy (& credit!) this idea.