My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?
Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.
The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.
Beware spoilers ahead!
This is my first Sarah Dessen book and it will certainly not be my last! I came across this book through a Listopia on Goodreads. It sounded interesting so I added it. A few days after that I read the sample from iBooks (I do that quite often) and was sucked into the book! I loved the writing style and I loved Sydney’s character. It was in that moment I knew that I needed to read it.
The book starts off with Sydney’s family at court awaiting her brother Peyton’s sentence. At the time Sydney zoned out so readers do not know what exactly Peyton’s sentence is. She goes to the bathroom. She runs into a girl in the bathroom who watches Sydney. When Sydney leaves the girl continues to watch her.
It was obvious that Peyton was their parents favourite child. He was the golden child and everyone loved him. When he moved into a different section of their school Peyton changed. He started hanging out with the wrong crowd and doing things that he normally wouldn’t do. It started with being caught with pot. And it turned into breaking and entering, drinking and the such. At some point he swore he wouldn’t do any of the above ever again. He made a friend Ames who was also in a similar position. Ames helped Peyton get through everything. One night while Peyton was out with some of his high school friends he got drunk and behind the wheel. At the time he was still on probation.
Some time after the court case Sydney decided it was best to transfer high schools. Things have been pretty hard on her family and she didn’t want to bring them burden. On her first day of high school she decides to go to a pizza place. In there she meets the Chathams. Specifically Layla, Mac and Mr. Chatham. Layla is extremely friendly and suggests that Sydney hang out with them during lunch.
A week has passed since meeting the Chathams and Sydney has not been able to find Layla or Mac. And she hasn’t made any friends. That day she does find them and from then on starts to hang out with them. She quickly becomes friends with Layla.
Throughout the course of this novel Sydney with the help of the Chathams faces what her brother did, she grows as does the rest of the characters, she stands up to her parents making it clear that she is also important, she sees things in different perspectives, and finally learns that she is not just some invisible girl.
I really loved Layla’s character! She was so much fun to read about and she was a really good friend. Mac was also a doll. I did not like Sydney’s parents at first. But after understanding them and their situation I found myself if anything understanding them. I was happy when Sydney and her family work together to solve their problems. It was nice to read about Sydney explaining her mother everything and what she thought about certain things. I liked how Sydney finally started seeing herself as important as well. The romance does not take away from the plot. It was fun to read Peyton and Sydney’s conversations. What I liked most was how despite what Peyton did Sydney does want to go to know him and reconnect with him.
Overall this was a wonderful read! I recommend it to everybody.