Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (March 1, 2011)
Hardcover: 288 pages
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.
Rating: View my rating system.
My Thoughts: When I think Sean Griswold's Head, I think cuteness wrapped in a bundle -- or, technically, between two hard covers and a couple hundred sheets of paper. It has it all: the nicest boy, the touching family trauma, and the inspirational self-discovery. Yet as cliché as those aspects may sound, Lindsey Leavitt adds her own spin with an authentic teenage voice and, of course, one very attractive male head. Overall, Sean Griswold's Head had me going "awww" at times from both romance and familial bonding, and I can honestly say the ending had me going banging my head a few times on my reading surface (which was, thankfully, a bed) out of sheer adorableness.
The only, and I repeat only, bothersome aspect for me was Payton's borderline annoying naivety. I could definitely see where she was coming from in having to deal with her father's MS and then with the fact that her parents hid the illness from her, but her reaction and avoidance seemed a little excessive. Yes, aversion is assured and a few tantrums granted, but for that long a time period... hm. And in the romance and friend departments, a couple times I just wanted to scream, "Can't you see the good thing right under your nose?!!!" Alas, all in the name of self-discovery, I suppose.
That being said, I still greatly admire Payton's strength and spunk. She definitely goes through some difficult times, and she falters, yet never backs down. Looking back, I can clearly track her growth throughout the book, from a girl who prided herself on her independence at the beginning to one who actually valued herself at the end. Even for a romance junkie like me, Lindsey Leavitt really conveys how beautiful self-acceptance can be, and does it all in Payton's snarky, genuine, and surprisingly relateable voice.
Me being me, how could I end this without mentioning Sean? Perfect, perfect Sean. Normally, that would be another strike on the negatives under the category of "unrealistic, untouchable," but Sean is just so darn lovable. Not only does he have the cute looks completely nailed, he teaches Payton to look past appearances, he bikes (I mean, gosh, who does that? Lindsey Leavitt has just introduced a prodigy here.), he's sweetly sensitive, and all-in-all, he's exactly what Payton needs. Whoever said "nice guys finish last?" For the record, I literally think "Sean" and biker shorts -- but that's a good thing, trust me.
Romance: PG - parent guidance suggested, but just a few kisses.
Cover: 3.5 -- I love how there's the little stick figure biker in the lower right, though I don't know why, the guy model's just not doing it for me. Maybe because that's not really how I imagine Sean in my mind?
Bottom Line: Sean Griswold's Head sends some mushy lessons about family, friends, and love -- but all the right ones. I recommend it to anyone looking for a light but heart-warming read that is guaranteed to leave an involuntary smile on your face. :)