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.
From the very first page I knew I was going to love Sean Griswold’s Head.
Lindsey Leavitt is a master at writing sassy heroines and bringing them to life with fabulous voice. She first won me over with Desi in Princess for Hire, and has done it again with Payton. From the start her voice captured me. With her subtle wit and love of organization, I felt like I had an instant connection with her. As a result, her character and the difficulties she faced felt all the more real to me.
In my opinion, Leavitt did an amazing job of portraying Payton’s struggle – both internally and externally – with her father’s diagnosis. It comes at a time when Payton is just beginning to come into her own. Anyone can remember the awkwardness of freshman year and that feeling of trying to find where you belong. For Payton, that is compounded by the revelation that her father has a crippling disease. In one second her whole world changes, and there’s no telling what will happen in the future. What I loved most about Sean Griswold’s Head was that Leavitt showed this uncertainty. At one point Payton goes so far as to say she can’t understand why she feels so angry at her parents, she just is and doesn’t know how to get past it. This, for me, was the moment that stands out in my mind and defines this book. It would be easy to say that Payton is being stubborn and bratty, just as it would be easy to say she is completely and totally justified in being angry. But being a teenager isn’t always so black and white, and the fact that Leavitt so skillfully showed that is what really made me love this book.
Now, don’t assume that the book is all heavy. There is plenty of humor on Payton’s journey to come to terms with her dad’s MS. The simple fact that Sean starts out as her focus object provides more than enough hilarity. She and her best friend concoct a number of schemes to learn more about Sean, which always result in a good laugh for the reader. And when a relationship begins to blossom between her and Sean, his quirky personality lends itself perfectly to banter (which I always love).
And, of course, I could devote a whole paragraph Sean. I fell in love with his genuine personality early on. From looking past labels to giving Payton surprisingly deep advice, he is wise far beyond his years. If I was ever in a position like Payton’s, I would hope that there would be someone like Sean around for me.
Expertly combining humor and great voice with the seriousness of MS and its impact on a family, Sean Griswold’s Head was an enchanting read. I’d highly suggest it to fans of contemporary fiction, or anyone looking for a great read. It’s sure to please.