It is beyond refreshing to have a story where one of the major plot drivers is that a parent will not let their teenager go do something, so rather than having the night of their life they are stuck at home in their bedroom. Saint Anything touches on so many realistic issues for teens and builds a world full of intricate relationships that bring these issues to life. Sydney has felt like she is invisible compared to her brother for years but this feeling reaches its pinnacle after her brother paralyzes a boy in a drunk driving accident. Sydney has to deal with feelings of guilt and loneliness during the aftermath but also finds an overwhelming amount of love and acceptance in new friends who become family. At times it feels like no one will really listen to Sydney and her frustration in the story is palpable, it’s easy to put yourself in her shoes. So there is so much relief when she is finally heard.
#RashadIsAbsentAgainToday is the trending topic after Rashad Butler is unjustly beaten and arrested during a misunderstanding at a convenience store in All American Boys. This story takes on both Rashad’s viewpoint and fellow high schooler Quinn’s after the incident that leaves Rashad in the hospital with a broken nose, broken ribs, and internal bleeding. The alternating viewpoints allow the story to be relatable to a wide range of audiences and bring up points that could not be reached otherwise. The story is very topical and relevant in today’s social climate, setting the scene for important dialogues about social justice, racism, and police brutality. While the topic of the book makes it a must-read, some of the dialogue and word choice seems forced and the ending is a bit anti-climatic. While there is a lot of character development in Quinn and Rashad, a lot of minor characters don’t seem to fill out their full potential. This and never finding out what happens to the police officer that beat Rashad leaves the story feeling unfinished. It is definitely a good conversation starter but not a conclusive representation of this issue.
Saint Anything beats All American Boys because the characters were more developed and the plot line takes place over a longer period of time which allows the reader to feel more invested in the outcome of the story.
WINNER: SAINT ANYTHING BY SARAH DESSEN
Reviewed by Becky Oberhauser, Cary Area Public Library