I owe a lot to Sarah Dessen. Let me explain. I first began reading her novels back in 2003 when the film “How to Deal” was released. While Mandy Moore may have gotten me into the theater doors, (I was a wee teen, don’t judge) I’ve stayed with Dessen all these years later for her honesty, her wit and the way she creates such real characters that I can relate to again and again. (Additionally, her social media presence is lovely. I urge you to read her Twitter page for daily wit and wisdom.)

{84AF3E1A-329F-4BDB-9654-E45D1F0E49BF}Img400Dessen’s 12th novel, Saint Anything, may be my favorite novel of hers yet. It is an honest story about Sydney Stanford as she copes with her older brother’s recent drunk driving conviction that shoves her usually well-ordered family into chaos. Cast aside as her parents focus on her brother’s troubles, Sydney searches for a place to belong.

It would seem like fate when the Chatham family enters Sydney’s world. Sydney befriends outgoing and friendly Layla and Layla’s cute brother, Mac. Finally amongst those that really see her, Sydney can begin to deal with the guilt, the loss and the issues that come from her family’s turmoil.

What captivated me the most about this latest story by Dessen was the depth in which readers can see into the character of Sydney. She’s overwhelmingly relatable as she carries the weight of guilt over her brother’s actions and struggles to share her desire to be seen as an individual…someone not tied to her brother’s shadow.

As can be expected from Dessen, the love story within Saint Anything is perfect and charming. The family struggles are heartbreaking and hopeful. The bonds between female friends are not understated. Sydney’s friendship with Layla had me missing my best friends in a way that only “girl time” can solve.

Teens and adults alike will enjoy Saint Anything and its release, May 5, 2015, is just in time to enjoy during Dessen’s favorite season, summer. So grab as many copies of this book as you can from your nearest library and head to the beach (or just outside in the sunshine)!

For Saint Anything Read-alikes, check out some suggestions here: http://bit.ly/1Memswn


Emma Kanagaki is a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive