Sarah Dessen books are often about the family we find for ourselves outside of our immediate family. The Rest of the Story is no different – Emma Saylor, known as Emma in town, ends up spending the summer with her disgraced mother’s family one summer. There, they know her as Saylor, and she hasn’t been there since she was four years old.
Emma, of course, grows as a person and also, of course, finds a boy. But the romance storyline isn’t as strong as it’s been in her previous books. This one really is more about Saylor’s development into a person whose life is defined by more than just her mother’s screw-ups. Ironic, then, that visiting her mother’s family is what finally allows her to develop beyond being defined by “try as hard as you can to not turn into your mother.”
The Rest of the Story isn’t as strong as some of Dessen’s previous books but it was still enjoyable and I’m glad I read it.
What’s it about?
Saint Anything is about a girl who feels invisible. Sydney is 16 and her older brother Peyton is a criminal. He’s handsome and troublesome and he occupies all their parents’ attention. So when he goes to jail for permanently disabling a boy, she’s ready to be done. With all of it. She switches schools and starts making new friends. Her parents only tangentially realize what’s going on with her – she’s always been the quiet, good one. Other than the school switch, their attention is still occupied by her brother. But when she starts figuring out who she is and making new friends, her parents (of course) only see the bad side of it, not the good. How do they go from here?
Why should you read it?
Sarah Dessen has a great way of making everything relatable. Sydney is one of those kids who is quiet and will always fall through the cracks of a system because she is good at taking care of herself and not bothering others. But she needs to figure out who she is. These are not wild circumstances, she isn’t doing anything spectacular or amazing, other than standing up for herself. She could be your friend; in fact, you’d be proud to have her as your friend. She’d get you pizza (many of her new friends work in a pizza restaurant), help you with your homework, and you could help her have a little more fun. Overall, it’s a touching book.