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An Awesome Article by Sarah Dessen

14/05/2015

On May 5th, Sarah Dessen released her 12th book, Saint Anything. You can read my review of it here, but before you go and start reading Saint Anything, there is perhaps something else you should read first. Sarah Dessen wrote an article about her experience almost dating an older guy when she was 15; it is with this experience that she found the voice of her latest protagonist, Sydney. If you haven't read Saint Anything yet, there is quite the unnerving character who looms over Sydney for most of the novel; Sydney feels very uncomfortable around him and her friends see that, but her parents seem to love him so she doesn't say anything.

Read the article for yourself, but here is a recap: when Sarah Dessen was 15, her best friend (aged 14) started dating a guy who was 21. Consequently, Sarah Dessen ended up spending a lot of time with another 21 year old, T. Her mother didn’t approve of her hanging out with this older guy, obviously, and so Sarah started keeping secrets.

While being forced to hang out with T, Sarah learned that he had feelings for her and wanted to date her. This is when she started to feel weird. The rest of the article is really about trusting yourself and your gut and finding your voice when you need to get out of a potentially bad situation.

I think this article has resonated with a lot of people. Even if you aren’t the one hanging out with the older kids who have already graduated, I’m sure you've seen them hanging around or knew your fellow classmates who were hanging out with them. I was part of the latter group, I saw the graduates coming back to my high school to pick up friends, girlfriends, or visit teachers. As a teen and still today, I find myself with the same opinion as Sarah’s mother and the 21 year old Sarah; when you’re 14 or 15 hanging out with or dating someone in their 20s it's weird. The guys from Sarah Dessen’s story should have been dating people their own age and it makes me wonder why they weren’t. You may think: “but my parents are five years apart in age and that isn’t weird,” but that’s because they’re fully fledged adults who both have a great deal of life experience and maturity.

So back to Saint Anything for a minute. Sydney spends a lot of time not telling her parents how uncomfortable and creepy this guy is; she needs to find her voice just like Sarah had to when she was a teenager.

But no matter what, here is the message that I think everyone, teen or not, should take to heart from Sarah Dessen’s article and her new novel:

“That if something feels wrong, that’s all the reason you need to get out of there. Don’t worry about being nice, or hurting someone’s feelings: they’ll get over it. Or, they won’t, and so what? You don’t have to wait... until you have no choice. You have more power than you know. So say no. Say it loudly. Say it twice. And then get out of there...”

Image: Saint Anything

Saint Anything

By Dessen, Sarah