Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
If you've been following my reviews since we started this staff blog, you'll probably know that I love Sarah Dessen's books (see previously: Along for the Ride, What Happened to Goodbye, and The Moon and More). She seems to put out a new novel every two years or so, at the beginning of the summer, and so they've become my go-to beach reads -- striking that perfect balance between serious and sweet.
In Saint Anything, Sydney has spent most of her life in the shadow of her popular older brother. But as the novel begins, he is spending time in prison for DUI, after an accident that left a 15-year-old paralyzed. Wanting to escape her brother's reputation, Sydney decides to leave their prestigious private school and attend the local public high school instead.
There, she meets Layla Chatham, whose family owns the local pizza parlor... and her older brother Mac. In the Chatham family, she finds a warmth that she's been missing from her own family, and begins to figure out who she really wants to be.
As always, Dessen has created characters with such intricate detail that they seem real, and readers will want to spend time with Sydney and her friends. With her trademark sensitivity, she handles Tough Issues with realism and nuance.
Highly recommended for older teens (and adults who enjoy teen books!) Readers who enjoy Saint Anything may also enjoy the novels of Huntley Fitzpatrick, Stephanie Perkins, Jennifer E. Smith (check back for a review of her newest title later this week!), among the many other amazing YA contemporary authors.