Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object—an item to concentrate her emotions on. It's supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold's head. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas—it's an alphabetical order thing), but she's never really known him.

The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father's newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it's working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking—er, focusing on—Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He's cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own. 

In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance.

For me, Sean Griswold’s Head is more about Payton’s journey to accept the devastating news of her father’s multiple sclerosis than it is about first love. I had a difficult time accepting how coldly Payton treated her parents (especially her dad). When her parents finally tell her about her dad’s diagnosis, Payton goes off the deep end. Her reactions were too over the top and it felt as if they were manipulated for the story’s sake. I grant you I am no psychologist, but Payton’s character is described as organized, an athlete and a good student, and I had a hard time accepting that a girl like her would do a 180 degree turn just because her parents hid her dad’s illness.  The growing relationship between Sean and Payton was cute to read about, the whole focus object idea was unique, but I had a difficult time relating to Payton because of they way she treated her father. Thankfully, the ending did a lot to get me over my feelings about Payton.

Bottom line: The book is cute in the charming way Payton and Sean’s relationship develops, but I spent a lot of my time being angry with Patyon’s treatment of her dad. The final message, however, goes a long way to correct Payton and her Dad's relationship and won me over in the end. 

If you can over look past Payton’s reaction to her father and enjoy Leavitt's sweet portrayal of first love, then I am sure Sean Grisowld’s Head will delight. Leavitt’s writing flows well, and there is quite a bit of humor that makes this a fun and entertaining read. 

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