Sarah Dessen Saint Anything

ISBN 13: 9780147516039

Saint Anything

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9780147516039: Saint Anything

A new blockbuster from #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah Dessen now available in paperback!

Sydney's handsome, charismatic older brother, Peyton, has always dominated the family, demanding and receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention. And when Peyton's involvement in a drunk driving episode sends him to jail, Sydney feels increasingly rootless and invisible, worried that her parents are unconcerned about the real victim: the boy Peyton hit and seriously injured. Meanwhile, Sydney becomes friends with the Chathams, a warm, close-knit, eccentric family, and their friendship helps her understand that she is not responsible for Peyton's mistakes. Once again, the hugely popular Sarah Dessen tells an engrossing story of a girl discovering friendship, love, and herself.

"This summer I'm looking forward to reading Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen."--John Green

"The name Sarah Dessen has become synonymous with Young Adult contemporary fiction."--Entertainment Weekly


Sarah Dessen is the winner of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her contributions to YA literature, as well as the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award.
 
Books by Sarah Dessen:
That Summer
Someone Like You
Keeping the Moon
Dreamland
This Lullaby
The Truth About Forever 
Just Listen
Lock and Key
Along for the Ride
What Happened to Goodbye
The Moon and More
Saint Anything

Once and for All

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About the Author:

Sarah Dessen is the author of thirteen novels, which include the New York Times bestsellers The Moon and MoreWhat Happened to GoodbyeAlong for the RideLock and KeyJust ListenThe Truth About Forever, and This Lullaby. Her first two books, That Summer and Someone Like You, were made into the movie How to Deal
 
Dessen’s books are frequently chosen for the Teens’ Top Ten list and the list of Best Fiction for Young Adults. They have been translated into twenty-five languages. Sarah Dessen is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the Young Adult division of the American Library Association.
 
Sarah Dessen graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with highest honors in creative writing. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Jay, and their daughter, Sasha Clementine.
 
Visit Sarah at sarahdessen.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


CHAPTER
1

“WOULD THE defendant please rise.”

This wasn’t an actual question, even though it sounded like one. I’d noticed that the first time we’d all been assembled here, in this way. Instead, it was a command, an order. The “please” was just for show.

My brother stood up. Beside me, my mom tensed, sucking in a breath. Like the way they tell you to inhale before an X-ray so they can see more, get it all. My father stared straight forward, as always, his face impossible to read.

The judge was talking again, but I couldn’t seem to listen. Instead, I looked over to the tall windows, the trees blowing back and forth outside. It was early August; school started in three weeks. It felt like I had spent the entire summer in this very room, maybe in this same seat, but I knew that wasn’t the case. Time just seemed to stop here. But maybe, for people like Peyton, that was exactly the point.

It was only when my mother gasped, bending forward to grab the bench in front of us, that I realized the sentence had been announced. I looked up at my brother. He’d been known for his fearlessness all the way back to when we were kids playing in the woods behind our house. But the day those older boys had challenged him to walk across that wide, gaping sinkhole on a skinny branch and he did it, his ears had been bright red. He was scared. Then and now.

There was a bang of the gavel, and we were dismissed. The attorneys turned to my brother, one leaning in close to speak while the other put a hand on his back. People were getting up, filing out, and I could feel their eyes on us as I swallowed hard and focused on my hands in my lap. Beside me, my mother was sobbing.

“Sydney?” Ames said. “You okay?”

I couldn’t answer, so I just nodded.

“Let’s go,” my father said, getting to his feet. He took my mom’s arm, then gestured for me to walk ahead of them, up to where the lawyers and Peyton were.

“I have to go to the ladies’ room,” I said.

My mom, her eyes red, just looked at me. As if this, after all that had happened, was the thing that she simply could not bear.

“It’s okay,” Ames said. “I’ll take her.”

My father nodded, clapping him on the shoulder as we passed. Out in the courthouse lobby, I could see people pushing the doors open, out into the light outside, and I wished more than anything that I was among them.

Ames put his arm around me as we walked. “I’ll wait for you here,” he said when we reached the ladies’ room. “Okay?”

Inside, the light was bright, unforgiving, as I walked to the sinks and looked at myself in the mirror there. My face was pale, my eyes dark, flat, and empty.

A stall door behind me opened and a girl came out. She was about my height, but smaller, slighter. As she stepped up beside me, I saw she had blonde hair, plaited in a messy braid that hung over one shoulder, a few wisps framing her face, and she wore a summer dress, cowboy boots, and a denim jacket. I felt her look at me as I washed my hands once, then twice, before grabbing a towel and turning to the door.

I pushed it open, and there was Ames, directly across the hallway, leaning against the wall with his arms folded over his chest. When he saw me, he stood up taller, taking a step forward. I hesitated, stopping, and the girl, also leaving, bumped into my back.

“Oh! Sorry!” she said.

“No,” I told her, turning around. “It was . . . my fault.”

She looked at me for a second, then past my shoulder, at Ames. I watched her green eyes take him in, this stranger, for a long moment before turning her attention back to me. I had never seen her before. But with a single look at her face, I knew exactly what she was thinking.

You okay?

I was used to being invisible. People rarely saw me, and if they did, they never looked close. I wasn’t shiny and charming like my brother, stunning and graceful like my mother, or smart and dynamic like my friends. That’s the thing, though. You always think you want to be noticed. Until you are.

The girl was still watching me, waiting for an answer to the question she hadn’t even said aloud. And maybe I would have answered it. But then I felt a hand on my elbow. Ames.

“Sydney? You ready?”

I didn’t reply to this, either. Somehow we were heading toward the lobby, where my parents were now standing with the lawyers. As we walked, I kept glancing behind me, trying to see that girl, but could not in the shifting crowd of people pressing into the courtroom. Once we were clear of them, though, I looked back one last time and was surprised to find her right where I’d left her. Her eyes were still on me, like she’d never lost sight of me at all.

CHAPTER
2

THE FIRST thing you saw when you walked into our house was a portrait of my brother. It hung directly across from the huge glass door, right above a wood credenza and the Chinese vase where my father stored his umbrellas. You’d be forgiven if you never noticed either of these things, though. Once you saw Peyton, you couldn’t take your eyes off him.

Though we shared the same looks (dark hair, olive skin, brown, almost black, eyes) he somehow carried them totally differently. I was average, kind of cute. But Peyton—the second in our house, with my father Peyton the first—was gorgeous. I’d heard him compared to everything from movie idols of long before my time to fictional characters tromping across Scottish moors. I was pretty sure my brother was unaware as a child of the attention he received in supermarkets or post office lines. I wondered how it had felt when he’d suddenly understood the effect his looks had on people, women especially. Like discovering a superpower, both thrilling and daunting, all at once.

Before all that, though, he was just my brother. Three years older, blue King Combat sheets on his bed in contrast to my pink Fairy Foo ones. I basically worshipped him. How could I not? He was the king of Truth or Dare (he always went with the latter, naturally), the fastest runner in the neighborhood, and the only person I’d ever seen who could stand, balanced, on the handlebars of a rolling bicycle.

But his greatest talent, to me, was disappearing.

We played a lot of hide-and-seek as kids, and Peyton took it seriously. Ducking behind the first chair spotted in a room, or choosing the obvious broom closet? Those were for amateurs. My brother would fold himself beneath the cabinet under the bathroom sink, flatten completely under a bedspread, climb up the shower stall to spread across the ceiling, somehow holding himself there. Whenever I asked him for his secrets, he’d just smile. “You just have to find the invisible place,” he told me. Only he could see it, though.

We practiced wrestling moves in front of cartoons on weekend mornings, fought over whom the dog loved more (just guess), and spent the hours after school we weren’t in activities (soccer for him, gymnastics for me) exploring the undeveloped green space behind our neighborhood. This is how my brother still appears to me whenever I think of him: walking ahead of me on a crisp day, a stick in his hand, through the dappled fall colors of the woods. Even when I was nervous we’d get lost, Peyton never was. That fearlessness again. A flat landscape never appealed to him. He always needed something to push up against. When things got bad with Peyton, I always wished we were back there, still walking. Like we hadn’t reached where we were going yet, and there was still a chance it might be somewhere else.

I was in sixth grade when things began to change. Until then, we had both been on the lower campus of Perkins Day, the private school we’d attended since kindergarten. That year, though, he moved to Upper School. Within a couple of weeks, he’d started hanging out with a bunch of juniors and seniors. They treated him like a mascot, daring him to do stupid stuff like lifting Popsicles from the cafeteria line or climbing into a car trunk to sneak off campus for lunch. This was when Peyton’s legend began in earnest. He was bigger than life, bigger than our lives.

Meanwhile, when I didn’t have gymnastics, I was now riding the bus home solo, then eating my snack alone at the kitchen island. I had my own friends, of course, but most of them were highly scheduled, never around on weekday afternoons due to various activities. This was typical of our neighborhood, the Arbors, where the average household could support any extracurricular activity from Mandarin lessons to Irish dancing and everything in between. Financially, my family was about average for the area. My father, who started his career in the military before going to law school, had made his money in corporate conflict resolution. He was the guy called when a company had a problem—threat of a lawsuit, serious issues between employees, questionable practices about to be brought to light—and needed it worked out. It was no wonder I grew up believing there was no problem my father couldn’t solve. For much of my life, I’d never seen any proof otherwise.

If Dad was the general, my mom was the chief operating officer. Unlike some parents, who approached parenting as a tag-team sport, in our family the duties were very clearly divided. My father handled the bills, house, and yard upkeep, and my mom dealt with everything else. Julie Stanford was That Mother, the one who read every parenting book and stocked her minivan with enough snacks and sports equipment for every kid in the neighborhood. Like my dad, if my mom did something, she did it right. Which was why it was all the more surprising when, eventually, things went wrong anyway.

The trouble with Peyton started in the winter of his tenth grade year. One afternoon I was watching TV in the living room with a bowl of popcorn when the doorbell rang. When I looked outside, I saw a police car in the driveway.

“Mom?” I called upstairs. She was in her office, which was basically command central for our entire house. My dad called it the War Room. “Someone’s here.”

I don’t know why I didn’t tell her it was the police. It just seemed saying it might make it real, and I wasn’t sure what was out there yet.

“Sydney, you are perfectly capable of answering the door,” she replied, but sure enough, a beat later I heard her coming down the stairs.

I kept my eyes on the TV, where the characters from my favorite reality show, Big New York, were in the midst of yet another dinner party catfight. The Big franchise had been part of my afternoon ritual since Peyton had started high school, the guiltiest of guilty pleasures. Rich women being petty and pretty, I’d heard it described, and that summed it up. There were about six different shows—Dallas, Los Angeles, and Chicago among them—enough so that I could easily watch two every day to fill the time between when I got home and dinner. I was so involved in the show, it was like they were my friends, and I often found myself talking back to the TV as if they could hear me, or thinking about their issues and problems even when I wasn’t watching. It was a weird kind of loneliness, feeling that some of my closest friends didn’t actually know I existed. But without them, the house felt so empty, even with my mom there, which made me feel empty in a way I’d grown to dread the moment I stepped off the bus after school. My own life felt flat and sad too much of the time; it was reassuring, somehow, to lose myself in someone else’s.

So I was watching Rosalie, the former actress, accuse Ayre, the model, of being a bully, when everything in our family’s life shifted. One minute the door was shut and things were fine. The next, it was open and there was Peyton, a police officer beside him.

“Ma’am,” the cop said as my mother stepped back, putting a hand to her chest. “Is this your son?”

This was what I would remember later. This one question, the answer a no-brainer, and yet still one my parents, and Mom especially, would grapple with from that point on. Starting that day, when Peyton got caught smoking pot in the Perkins Day parking lot with his friends, my brother began a transformation into someone we didn’t always recognize. There would be other visits from the authorities, trips to the police station, and, eventually, court dates and rehab stays. But it was this first one that stayed in my mind, crisp in detail. The bowl of popcorn, warm in my lap. Rosalie’s sharp voice. And my mom, stepping back to let my brother inside. As the cop led him down the hallway to the kitchen, my brother looked at me. His ears were bright red.

Because he hadn’t had any pot on his person, Perkins Day decided to handle the infraction itself, with a suspension and volunteer hours doing tutoring at the Lower School. The story—especially the part about how Peyton was the only one who ran, forcing the cops to chase him down—made the rounds, with how far he’d gotten (a block, five, a mile) growing with each telling. My mom cried. My dad, furious, grounded him for a full month. Things didn’t go back to the way they had been, though. Peyton came home and went to his room, staying there until dinner. He served his time, swore he’d learned his lesson. Three months later, he got busted for breaking and entering.

There’s a weird thing that happens when something goes from a one-time thing to a habit. Like the problem is no longer just a temporary houseguest but has actually moved in.

After that, we fell into a routine. My brother accepted his punishment and my parents slowly relaxed, accepting as fact their various theories about why this would never happen again. Then Peyton would get busted—for drugs, shoplifting, reckless driving—and we’d all go back down the rabbit hole of charges, lawyers, court, and sentences.

After his first shoplifting arrest, when the cops found pot during his pat-down, Peyton went to rehab. He returned with a thirty-day chip on his key chain and interest in playing guitar thanks to his roommate at Evergreen Care Center. My parents paid for lessons and made plans to outfit part of the basement as a small studio so he could record his original compositions. The work was halfway done when the school found a small amount of pills in his locker.

He got suspended for three weeks, during which time he was supposed to be staying home, getting tutored and preparing for his court date. Two days before he was due to go back to school, I was awakened out of a deep sleep by the rumbling of the garage door opening. I looked out the window to see my dad’s car backing onto our street. My clock said three fifteen a.m.

I got up and went out into the hallway, which was dark and quiet, then padded down the stairs. A light was on in the kitchen. There I found my mother, in her pajamas and a U sweatshirt, making a pot of coffee. When she saw me, she just shook her head.

“Go back to sleep,” she told me. “I’ll fill you in tomorrow.”

By the next morning, my brother had been bailed out, charged yet again with breaking and entering, this time with added counts of trespassing and resisting arrest. The previous evening, after my parents had gone to bed, he’d snuck out of his room, walked up our road, then climbed the fence around the Vill...

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Book Description SPEAK, 2016. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. A new blockbuster from #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah Dessen now available in paperback! Sydney s handsome, charismatic older brother, Peyton, has always dominated the family, demanding and receiving the lion s share of their parents attention. And when Peyton s involvement in a drunk driving episode sends him to jail, Sydney feels increasingly rootless and invisible, worried that her parents are unconcerned about the real victim: the boy Peyton hit and seriously injured. Meanwhile, Sydney becomes friends with the Chathams, a warm, close-knit, eccentric family, and their friendship helps her understand that she is not responsible for Peyton s mistakes. Once again, the hugely popular Sarah Dessen tells an engrossing story of a girl discovering friendship, love, and herself. This summer I m looking forward to reading Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen. --John Green The name Sarah Dessen has become synonymous with Young Adult contemporary fiction. --Entertainment Weekly Sarah Dessen is the winner of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her contributions to YA literature, as well as the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Books by Sarah Dessen: That Summer Someone Like You Keeping the Moon Dreamland This Lullaby The Truth About Forever Just Listen Lock and Key Along for the Ride What Happened to Goodbye The Moon and More Saint Anything Once and for All. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780147516039

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