Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt Review

Monday, September 16, 2013

Title: Sean Griswold's Head
Author: Lindsey Leavitt (Twitter)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish Date: March 1, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 288
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.


  1. I adored this one. Maybe because it did have some cheese in it but it was so real in so many ways. It was a seriously sweet love story and I wish it had gotten more buzz than it did.

  2. HAH! That's one interesting synopsis, I haven't heard of this one before but I think I'm adding this to the never ending TBR!

    Lovely review, Melissa! <33

  3. I read this one not expecting much, either, but it was so much better than I thought it would be! Very cute and sweet. Great review!

  4. I've heard good things about Lindsey Leavitt and have had Going Vintage on my TBR for a while. I added Sean Griswold's Head, as well. I could use a feel-good family story about now.

  5. I read Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt and I thought it was a wonderful contemporary novel.
    I didn't know she had another book, so thank you for featuring this review on your blog.
    I love books like these with protagonists who are a bit naive and sweet and I completely agree about the cover. It's gorgeous and is something I would pick up.
    I'm curious to see how the author handled the father's illness.
    Lovely review, Melissa. I'm adding this to my TBR!

  6. I adored Sean Griswold's Head. Sean Griswold is my book boyfriend :).

  7. This was such a cute book. I've loved all of Lindsey's books. I did think this was better than Going Vintage though. She has a way of writing quirky, kinda OCD characters who are a little obnoxious yet lovable.

  8. I wasn't a huge fan of this authors most recent contemporary, but I heard this one was great and I'm glad you thought so too, Melissa! I can't wait to finally grab a copy myself - it seems too good to miss!(:

  9. "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." --> This is exactly the reason I've never given this one the time of day, but everyone seems to love it in every review that I've seen of it! Perhaps I should loosen up a bit?! Great review, Melissa. I can tell you really liked this one.

  10. I've thought about reading this one because I've seen so many good reviews of it. I like the story line, that Payton focuses on the back of Sean's head to get her mind off of her dad's illness. I'm glad you got past the cover. Your's is just one more great review that makes me want to pick this one up. It's definite.

  11. The cover is really terrible, isn't it?

    I felt the same way but I was also glad I picked it up. It was a sweet story and the MC had to go through a lot of growth and I found Sean to be so sweet and cute. I also loved the bike riding adventures! We don't get enough of that in YA. Still have to read Going Vintage -- something else to look forward to!

  12. I adored this book but also agree about the cover. For some reason I thought it was a male protagonist and kind of avoided it because of that. But then I did read it and loved it so so much!


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