Monday, 18 June 2012

Sean Griswold's Head

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt
Paperback, 274 pages

Published 2011 by Scholastic

My shelves:
 books-i-own, contemporary, currently-reading, medical-conditions, read-in-2012, realistic-fiction, young-adult
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

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.

In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance.
Buy this book:

I hadn't really heard much about this book before I actually picked it up - I haven't actually read any reviews for it yet and I wasn't all that sure what it was about. The book does have a fluorescent pink, in-your-face cover though - so guess why I picked it up? I'm really glad that I did decide to get this book though, as I really enjoyed it.

This story is narrated by Payton Gritas who has just discovered that her dad has multiple sclerosis (MS) and is trying to come to terms with it. She has been forced to visit the school counsellor for help, who gives her an aim of choosing a 'focus object' and putting all of her thoughts into that. After much deliberation, Payton decides that her perfect focus object is something that she has had to look at for most of her life - the head of the boy who sits in front of her in class, Sean Griswold's head. Yeah, I know what you're thinking - how random... but actually, it kind of works!

I think the real strength of this book lies in the characters - they are so vivid! Payton's personality really beams through the paper and although she isn't overly or particularly emotional, she is open throughout the book and you can tell what she's feeling not just through her narration, but through her actions and behaviour. I really loved her as a protagonist and I really warmed to everyone she met too. I didn't think that there were any poor characters in this novel, though the friendship issues between Payton and her best friend, Jac, seemed a little unrealistic and so a little annoying. There were definitely points where I wanted to put my hands through the pages and give some of the characters a good shake! 

I absolutely adored Sean. As Payton extends her 'focus' exercise further, both we and Payton get to know more about Sean. He is not your popular high school jock and he is quite mysterious - we don't know much about him at the beginning. Sean is so caring and a little bit misunderstood. I think that a lot of you who read this book will really fall in love with him - he is extremely sweet and caring, with his heart definitely in the right place. Though neither Sean or Payton are perfect, they compliment each other superbly. It is great to see how their relationship helps them explore their lives in a way that is beneficial for them both. 

Though there is a very serious underlying issue in this book - Payton coming to terms with her father's diagnosis of MS, the book isn't much of a tear jerker - it is emotionally poignant at just the right moments, but reading the book certainly doesn't depress you. There is a lot of humour throughout and the personalities of the characters are generally quite fun! I think it is fantastic when a book can deal with a serious issue, but also not get too bogged down by it. I would definitely recommend this book, and hope to see more people pick it up!  


  1. Much loved by many of my friends children, I hope to read this soon. Great review, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Wow great review!!!!!! I haven't heard of this one before but it sounds like something I would enjoy!!! I really look for realistic characters in a book so considering you thought the characters were a major strength in the novel definitely makes me want to read it. So glad to hear that the author includes humour in the novel because I can not handle books with serious themes!!! Thanks for the wonderful review :-)

    Following your amazing blog!

  3. Steph! This sounds SO good! I like the sound of Payton and Sean, can't wait to get to know them. And I like that this manages to be both funny and take on serious topics

  4. I hadn't heard of this one before but it really does sound amazing. You review was fabulous, thanks for bring the book to my attention. I will definitely be checking this one out. :)

  5. Great review! I have never seen that cover for this book before. My copy has Sean in front of a chalkboard. I was surprised by how much I liked this book.

  6. Oh I haven't seen that many reviews of this one either which is a shame, it is a lovely book! Very sweet and touching and I loved it so much!


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