For What It's Worth

Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Sean Griswold's Head 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 
In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance. (YA)

This was a really different type of YA story and that’s hard to find these days. No paranormal creatures, no love triangles and there is an actual present and involved family. It was a little on the younger side of the YA spectrum but still had a little romance and a crush worthy boy. 
Payton finds out her father has MS and while that diagnosis is devastating enough, learning that the whole family knew for months and didn’t tell her sends Payton into a tailspin. She stops speaking to her family and becomes withdrawn.
Trying to get Payton to come to terms with everything, her parents send her to an unorthodox guidance counselor. The guidance counselor suggests Payton find a “focus object” to concentrate on in the hopes that she can then deal with her feelings about her father’s illness.
Instead of  - oh say a rock, or teddy bear, Payton picks Sean Griswold’s head. After all he sits in front of her in class every day. She’s gone to school with him for years yet has never really talked to Sean or noticed any details about him. She starts a journal describing the details of his head. It’s really big for one. LOL. Then when Sean starts talking to her she notices more about him including that she may even like him.
I had quite a few laughs at Payton’s descriptions and doodling’s of Sean’s head. Although it was the act of finding a focus object that was supposed to help her it was the object himself that broke down her walls. Sean is an all-around good guy, more interested in sports than girls. He’s also very perceptive and understanding when it comes to Payton’s situation. Payton can be very self-absorbed and Sean’s honesty is refreshing. He really likes her and tries to help her through but he isn’t about to let her wallow in self-pity.
The one thing I didn’t love about the story was Payton. I completely understand her anger and outburst. Initially. After that she needed to get a grip. I do get that her anger didn’t have as much to do with her family lying as much as it was about the fear of losing her father. But lashing out at the man who is sick for as long as she did made it a little tough to sympathize with her. It left me thinking that her family was correct in their opinion that she couldn’t handle the news. Fortunately the family dynamics are not ignored. Leavitt explores the fallout of a family dealing with a life changing illness quite well without becoming overly maudlin.
When Payton is outside of that family dynamic and with her best friend or Sean she is quite likeable and very funny so I still enjoyed the book despite of my occasional annoyances with her. 
Sean is just wonderful which I’m not sure is realistic but who cares I loved him. I also loved his reaction when he finds out his head was the object of such focus by the girl he likes. It was not what I expected at all. He also softens Payton so she’s easier to tolerate.  
Payton does experience a lot of personal growth throughout the story too and the book left me with a smile on my face.

Rating: 3 out of 4. Cute little story that takes on bigger themes without being heavy handed.

Author's Website:
Twitter: @Lindsey_Leavitt
Buy the book! Sean Griswold's Head
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Source: Borrowed from Lena Beana - Addicted 2 Novels (Thank you!)


  1. Great review and I must check this book out.

  2. Great review! Will keep a look out!

    Have a book filled week!
    Pop past the blog to say hi!

  3. I'll have to check this one out! It seems to be getting a lot of great reviews. I think my 11 year-old cousin might enjoy it, and I'm always keeping an eye out for books for her!

  4. How cute. I hadn't read any reviews yet, so I'm glad to hear it's a relatively good book.


  5. I actually pre-ordered the paperback of this one the other day, so I could read it for the YA Contemp Challenge, and I'm so glad because it sounds like such an adorable book with a completely different story to what I'm used to in YA!! :)

    I love this ... "She starts a journal describing the details of his head. It’s really big for one. LOL." :D ... and I can't wait to find out how Sean reacts when he finds out about the head stuff, hehe, because I can't imagine a teenage boy being much other than FREAKED OUT, lmao.

  6. I just bought this one the other day. Looking forward to reading it. Great review!