Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Saint Anything Audio

Saint Anything Audio

Sarah Dessen
For ages 12 and up
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Taylor Meskimen
Listening Library , 2015   ISBN: 978-1101915424

Sydney has always lived, to some degree, in the shadow of her big brother. Peyton was the leader when they went exploring in the woods. He was the one who was so gorgeous that people noticed him wherever he went. He was the fearless one who took on all kinds of dares, and who always found the best places to hide during games of hide and seek.

When Sydney was in sixth grade Peyton moved to the Upper School in their private school. He began spending time with the juniors and seniors, and he and Sydney did not hang out together as much. Then, when Peyton was in tenth grade, things started to go wrong. Peyton was caught smoking pot in school, and he was brought home by the police. This was the beginning of his downward spiral into a life full of arrests, rehab stays, and court appearances. Peyton was caught stealing, doing drugs, and breaking and entering. His parents and sister had no idea who he was any more. They had to deal with the looks people gave them, the whispers, and the gossip. Meanwhile, Peyton kept on breaking the law, oblivious of the fact that he was hurting the people who loved him best.

Sydney’s mother made excuses for her son, and all too often she blamed the police and the school, behaving as if Peyton was the innocent one, which he wasn’t. After serving seven weeks in county lockup for breaking into a neighbor’s house Peyton seemed to settle down. Then some months after he graduated from school Peyton went to a friend’s house, he got drunk, and during his drive home he hit a fifteen-year-old boy who was riding home on his bike. The boy was paralyzed from the waist down.

Peyton was sentenced to a term in prison for his crime and Sydney has been feeling the weight of his guilt on her shoulders ever since. What makes it even worse is that her mother, even though Peyton injured someone, does not seem to want to accept the fact that he was the perpetrator and not the victim. The way she coddles Peyton, and makes a fuss over him, infuriates Sydney and she feels as if she is invisible.

Wanting to make a clean break from her before-the-accident life, Sydney transfers to a different school. She is not there long before she makes friends with Layla Chatham, who immediately adopts Sydney and brings her into the comforting world of her loud and loving family. Even though the Cathams have their own problems, they manage to move forward in a positive way, and they always have room for lost people like Sydney. Sydney is accepted without judgement, and for the first time in what feels like forever, she feels that she is no longer invisible. The one who seems to understand her the best is Mac, Layla’s big brother, whose gentle ways, support, and sage advice helps Sydney cope with her difficult home life.

This wonderful story explores the ways in which two families cope with crisis and loss. Sydney’s emotional pain is hard to witness at times, but as we see her trust and open up, and as she starts to find her voice, we can also celebrate the fact that she is moving forward and finding a way to come out from under her brother’s shadow.