Author: Lindsey Leavitt (Twitter)
Publish Date: March 1, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Source: Personal Copy
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.
Payton's a freshman in high school. Her worries are small - grades and playing basketball - but life is about to throw her a curveball. When her mother breaks the news that her father's health is deteriorating and he's suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, she's devastated. Her parents kept the news from her and, in turn, she gives them the silent treatment, prompting her mother to get the guidance counselor involved. She suggests Payton find a focus object, and she does; Sean Griswold's head. And, pretty soon, Payton realizes Sean Griswold (and his head) might be the perfect distraction she really needs.
First and foremost, it must be said that I'm a cover slut, and the reason I waited so long to read this book is simply because I wasn't sure that the cover would hold contents which would really keep me riveted. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by Sean Griswold's Head and Lindsey Leavitt's incredibly sweet and sensitive novel. There's a delicate humour to this novel, which really makes Payton's story soar. Readers are treated to a light romance that gives us so many feels that we can't help but become invested in the story. Fun, flirty, serious and smart, Sean Griswold's Head has a little something for everyone.
There's a subtle, understated greatness to Sean Griswold's Head that I fear a lot of judgy readers like myself might otherwise miss. In Payton, we're offered an impressionable, vulnerable and lovable protagonist. There's a sensitivity and naivety to her that makes her easier for us to access, plus it really works because we get to watch as the revelation of her father's illness causes her to crumble. Then, the beauty of the novel is the we get to see her put those pieces back together by watching her fall for her focus object, Sean. In terms of romantic characters, Sean was pretty much the male counterpart to Payton's character. Their interests are in line, he's funny, he's charismatic and he's definitely cute, all of which have us rooting for a real shot for Payton and Sean. The humour that plays through their budding relationship and Payton's interactions, actions and inactions had me laughing out loud multiple times, which really lightened the otherwise heavy material. There was definitely a theme of strong family values in this novel, which I can really appreciate, as well. Too often in YA, I believe the parents and family become and afterthought. In this book though, the family dynamic plays a central role, and that is a huge plus for me because we really got to see how Payton shut them out but eventually began to grow up and allow her family back in. It was a beautiful coming-of-age story that was fun, flirty and downright sassy - definitely something special. If I had one qualm with the book, it was simply the ending. After building us up and bringing us through this whole journey, I felt it was really abrupt and, to be honest, I felt a bit cheated.
Overall though, I really enjoyed Sean Griswold's Head. Is some of it cheesy? Sure...but it's a really fun, engaging and emotionally charged story. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I definitely recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.