Friday, August 2, 2013

Review: Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Sean Griswold's Head
Description: According to her guidance counsellor, 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. 

Stats: Young Adult Contemporary, 288 pages, First Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books, March 2011.

My Rating: 3 Stars

“I would be lying if I said I didn't get a kick out of the assignment. Here I am, a "troubled youth," and my self-chosen treatment is to become a stalker. Okay, not stalker. Research Analyst.” 

Sean Griswold's Head is more then what I expected it to be. I expected a cute, romantic, chick-lit, comedy about a quirky teen girl and the head of the boy who sits in front of her (all of which it undoubtedly was) but it was also much more then that. Sean Griswold's Head was about more then just a boy, but the experiences Payton goes through after tragic family news. 

Payton is just starting high school, she has a colour coded highlighter system for English, is psyched to buy a premium day planner, and likes to keep things orderly. So when her life gets surprisingly derailed, things being orderly is the least of her problems. Needless to say, I loved Payton. Her voice was equal parts truthful and neurotic. I also appreciate a girl who can write a properly organized list. Sisterhood!!

All the characters in this including Payton's family, her best friend Jac, and Sean Griswold himself were all well written and charming as hell. No one was perfect, but everyone had at least one really good giggle worthy line of dialogue. Incredibly cute I tell you!

However, what really got me hooked was how realistic the emotions were that Payton experienced throughout the story. She has the entire range of what a young girl trying to handle everything all at once experiences, from sadness, to anger, to defeat, to happiness. It's a bumpy ride and that made the core of the book feel very honest. One of my biggest book-peeves is when a character is experiencing something horrible but doesn't respond by getting angry, or crying, or having some sort of emotional outburst, like a perfectly normal human being does. Payton doesn't just grin and bare it, she is forced working at things and in doing so focus on something else. 

Which brings us to the set up of the entire story. Firstly, multiple sclerosis and secondly, Sean Griswold's head.

Before reading this I didn't know a whole lot about MS. Right now I'm more of a cancer specialist and although I pride myself on being well informed on all things, MS is a bit of a downer. I was happy to see that this book doesn't go into pages of medical jargon or explanations. Instead, the characters spoke for the diagnose in how it affects daily life and how each case is different. Which is what I found so scary about MS, it doesn't just go away, it can't be cured and can't be fixed. I think the story really got across what it was and what it does to the body without being clinical. 

Sean Griswold's HeadMoving on to Sean Griswold, I liked him more then I thought I would have as the story progressed. His blooming relationship with Payton was well paced. Although there were a few moments that didn't completely sell me I liked that he was a developed character and not just a head. 

The only reason I can think of for why this book doesn't get a higher rating from me is that I don't see this as being something that sticks out. It's a great book in the moment, but I can clearly see this as something I won't totally remember this same time next week.

With that being said, this book was incredibly cute with some really unexpected heart warming moments. I also see this as some sort of odd fate that I read this now because I have been pining for a bicycle over the last few days. I really, really, really, really want one! Unfortunately, I don't have cute boys giving me free wheels so I'll have to keep looking in the non-fictional world. Did I mention how much I want one? I'm like a little girl wanting a pony, only this pony can get me to the nearest book store.


  1. I've read good things about this in the past but your review is a reminder that I still need to read it!

    1. You totally should! It's been a while since I read it, but it's still something I think of when it comes to contemporary YA. Right now I'm trying to decide whether or not to check out Going Vintage which came out this year from the same author.