Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, March 1 2011
Format: Hardcover 288 pages
Format read: Kindle edition via booklending.com, April 24 2011
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
In Sean Griswold’s Head we meet fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas, an over-achieving and obsessively organized high school student. Her world comes crashing down when she finds out her dad has MS, and what’s even worse is her family has kept his diagnosis a secret for months. She takes out her hurt feelings and fear on those she loves most: her parents. The school guidance counselor wants to help. She assigns Payton a focus object project to focus her energy on something not related to her dad’s MS. Payton decides classmate Sean Griswold’s head will be her focus object. Due to an alphabetical seating chart Payton has sat behind Sean since third grade. Payton’s best friend Jac gets in the act and encourages her to do more sleuthing to study more than just the back of his head. Once she starts writing about him, she begins to take notice of the nice guy who has been under her nose this whole time. They share more in common than she could have ever imagined. What happens when her school project turns into something more?
This is a really sweet, heart-warming book. I had a feeling I would love it when I read the premise and I wasn’t disappointed. The book explores realistic issues readers will relate to such as managing relationships, coping skills and school and home challenges. The main character Payton is charming in her imperfection. It’s refreshing to have an athletic, quirky and high achieving main character. It’s interesting to read how she handles life’s obstacles after having such an organized life.
Jac is Payton’s over-bearing but well-meaning best friend. She’s boy crazy and has a tendency to meddle, especially where Sean is concerned. Sean Griswold is the perfect guy for Payton. He’s smart, considerate, involved with charities, and he’s training for a triathlon. He’s even as obsessed with the show Seinfeld as Payton is. He’s friendly with Grady the Goth who has had very bizarre interactions with Payton in the halls. Payton’s parents and brothers also play prominent roles in the book. Payton’s response to her family crisis is frustrating yet realistic and it is interesting to see their family dynamic as they try to address their issues. All of the characters are multi-layered and fascinating in their roles.
Sean Griswold’s Head is a real treat and standout in the young adult contemporary genre. It’s a sweet, funny and sharply written book that will tug at your heartstrings. Looking forward to reading more books by Lindsey Leavitt.
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