Are you ever tempted to sum up an entire book with one word? I rarely am – I usually need at least ten (and probably more) to describe how a book felt, what it was about, and so on. But for Lindsey Leavitt’s latest novel, I needed just one: CUTE. Seriously. Sean Griswold’s Head caught my interest because someone mentioned its very cuteness, too. I need to get better at remembering who inspires me to read a particular book, because I want to high five that person like, rightNOW.
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.
Payton Gritas is dealing with some heavy stuff at home, and everything in her life seems to be tilting sideways. But when she’s given an assignment to find and write about a focus object, it all clicks into place – for a while. Being a teenager isn’t easy though, and soon everything is falling apart again. It’s up to Payton to find a way to cope, and to navigate the tricky waters of high school, relationships and family while somehow maintaining a sense of humor and her sense of self.
This book is incredibly sweet and (yes, I said it earlier) cute, but it’s not fluffy. It’s also funny and sarcastic. Payton herself has OCD tendencies and a mild obsession with Seinfeld and sports (bonus factor!). Quirks are minor and the focus is on self-discovery, but the family and friend drama is quite real and Payton’s response to it by turns annoying, endearing, and courageous.
Payton’s best friend Jac and Sean’s sidekick Grady deserve their own stories, and I’m even curious about Payton’s parents. In this story, no one seems intentionally slighted in the character development section, and that’s both refreshing and unexpected. While there were a few times I wanted to kick Payton into shape, being in her head and experiencing her growth was entertaining. What can I say? I totally would have been her friend back in the day. Also? Sean = ADORBS.
Things I didn’t like: despite the title, this book stays in girl-only territory. Although it’s got sports aplenty and a male main character, the voice and audience are definitely female. Nothing wrong with that, but I like to see books that will appeal to both sexes. As far as objections go, that’s all I have – and that’s pretty awesome, if you ask me.
Recommended for: tweens and teens (nothing in this one will set off warning bells), fans of sports in YA novels, anyone who is dealing with or who has dealt with family illness, and those who enjoy an innocent coming-of-age story that fits nicely in the category of ‘cute.’ Harmless and perfect summer reading!