Review of “Sean Griswold’s Head” by Lindsey Leavitt

Fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas finds out her father has multiple sclerosis six months after the rest of the family already knows. She is hurt and angry and stops speaking to the rest of her family, especially shunning her dad with whom she was close:

“The truth, I know, is that it’s not my dad I’m really mad at. I’m mad at his disease. And it’s not anger. It’s fear.”

Her parents contact the guidance counselor at school, who insists Payton find something other than her family on which to focus; keep a journal; and write about it. Payton decides to focus on the guy who sits in front of her, Sean Griswold, because she always has to look past his head anyway to see the board. Pretty soon, egged on by her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton is focusing on more than his head, and discovers she likes what she finds out.

But first, Payton has to overcome her fear of losing those she loves, a fear which inevitably extends to her new relationship with Sean. She tries to push him away as she is pushing her dad away. In one of the most humorous passages, Sean’s friend Grady, upset thinking that he had caused the problems between Payton and Sean, cries after being confronted by Payton, and then says:

“I can’t believe I cried. You must be channeling excessive estrogen with all that relationship crap.”

Sean has a lot to offer Payton; not only does he suggest ways to cope with her father’s disease, but gives her good advice as well:

“…if you love something, you hold on to it.”

Evaluation: This is a sweet, poignant book with lots of humor and heart in spite of its heavy subject matter. It has great lessons for teens (e.g., everything isn’t always about you) and is appropriate for tweens as well.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books, 2011

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11 Responses to Review of “Sean Griswold’s Head” by Lindsey Leavitt

  1. zibilee says:

    I bet this is a book that my daughter would love, and I might also as well. It sounds like it deals with a lot of different issues, both heavy and light, very well. Thanks for the great review on this one. I also love the message that it’s not always all about them. We should have that written on a sign above the door!

  2. Doret says:

    I remember hearing about this and wanting to read it. Thanks for letting me know its worth tracking down. Also I love the cover, a boy might be as likely to pick it up as a girl.

  3. My nephew was diagnosed with diabetes last year and has started to read books where kids deal with different adversities. I think he may enjoy this one.

  4. Sandy says:

    Really? Everything isn’t always about the teenagers? Sheesh. I’ve been misled. This book sounds really precious. The title alone makes me smile. Probably the only way I could get my daughter to read it is if I told her she wasn’t allowed to read it.

  5. Margot says:

    At last, a story about teenage relationships that isn’t silly or set in some weird place. It sounds like it deals with some serious issues but is still fun.

  6. Julie P. says:

    I’m so glad you read it and enjoyed it! This is exactly the type of novel that I want my tween to be reading!

  7. BermudaOnion says:

    This does sound good. It’s nice to see a YA book that has involved parents.

  8. wait, what do you mean, everything is not about me?

  9. Alyce says:

    I think most adults still need to be reminded everything isn’t about them! 😉

  10. Staci says:

    I’ve read some other positive reviews of this one and thought my son would like to read this one.

  11. Jenners says:

    This does sound worthwhile…and like it deals with some heavy stuff as well as the usual teen angst.

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