This 2015 release by Sarah Dessen was more serious, contemplative, and reflective than her numerous other novels, such as Along for the Ride, This Lullaby, Just Listen, and Lock and Key. The story focuses on teenage girl Sydney Stanford, who has always been overshadowed by her popular brother Peyton. While in high school, Peyton started going down a bad path after he started experimenting with drugs, shoplifting, and drinking. This eventually results in Peyton getting sent to prison after he seriously injures a boy one night while driving under the influence. Sydney feels ignored by her family, especially her mother, as her parents try to connect with Peyton in prison. She feels ashamed of Peyton’s bad behavior and is the only person in her family who feels guilty about what happened to the boy, David Ibarra, who ended up paralyzed as a result of the accident.
One day, Sydney meets the Chatham family and they help give her advice on how to deal with her family and the accident, as they have gone through a similar situation. She begins to spend time with the Chatham family to escape the problems in her own family. Sydney develops a deep friendship with them, and their friendship is tested at the end of the novel.
This is one of Dessen’s more serious novels, as one of the main conflicts is between Sydney and her mother about focusing less on Peyton in prison and more on what is happening to Sydney. There is a slight theme of love, but it is not the main focus of the novel and plays a little role in the development of the plot unlike in some of Dessen’s other novels, such as This Lullaby. The theme of family is prevalent throughout the novel, especially how family must support one another through hardships. This new release gives readers insight of how difficult it is for families to stay together after a life changing event. Fans of Dessen’s will not be disappointed, and those who are interested in realistic teen fiction should check out Saint Anything if they are looking for a good read.
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Summertime on Beechwood Island in Massachusetts has always been special for the Sinclair family. Harris Sinclair, the patriarch of the family, owns the small island near Martha’s Vineyard and built a summer house there for each of his three daughters. Cadence “Cady” Eastman, eldest grandchild of Harris and his beloved wife Tipper, has happily lived and loved every summer with her extended family on Beechwood.
Summer 15 proves to be difficult in many ways. It’s the year when everything changes. Cady’s father leaves. Tipper passes away. Cady realizes in her heart that she’s in love with Gat, her cousin Johnny’s best friend, who also spends his summers on Beechwood Island. The summer Gat tells her he loves her. But what about his girlfriend back home? Their first kiss. The summer of her “accident”, an accident she doesn’t really remember. Secrets and lies. The summer when her world comes apart.
Summer 16 is not a good one for Cady either. She is forced to go on a European vacation with her father instead of her usual summer plans. She hasn’t been in touch with any of the “Liars”, cousin Mirren, Cousin Johnny, or her Gat. None of them have written or called since her accident the previous summer. No Beechwood. No Gat. No Liars. Only brutal migraines that leave Cady in extreme pain, sometimes sleeping for days, and taking meds that the doctors prescribe but don’t actually work.
Now, it’s Summer 17, two years after her accident. She has convinced her mom to let her come back to Beechwood. Bits and pieces of Summer 15 flash back to her in between her frequent migraines. All Cady remembers about the accident was going down to the beach alone to swim and the way she was found, freezing and curled up into a ball on the shore. Something else must’ve happened. A fight maybe? She must’ve hit her head on the rocks, right? Hypothermia they said. Respiratory issues they said. But why can’t she remember? Traumatic brain injury and selective amnesia was her diagnosis, but it still made no sense. Why would Cady go alone when the three other Liars were always with her? So many questions Cady couldn’t answer. Or could she?
Lockhart does an amazing job with this story. I couldn’t put it down. Some will see the plot twist and some won’t, but it doesn’t change the intrigue and mystery surrounding Cady’s accident and the craziness in her family. I would definitely recommend this to anyone that enjoys quick reads, romance, and a good mystery.
Check this book out or put it on hold.