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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Book Review: Sean Griswald's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Ever notice how once you become aware of something, it is like you always see it or hear about it?

For instance, when we were in Germany, my hubby decided he needed to get a new winter jacket. There is a chain of stores over there called Jack Wolfskin that is like North Face. We went to the store and spent a great deal of time in there looking for the perfect coat. We had to try on numerous styles and re-try on coats. No seats in the store, by the way. Anyway, we finally got it down to know, the amount of time it took him to pick out a jacket is irrelevant. Suffice it to say, five days later, he picked out a coat.

I had never seen the brand before, but let me tell you, I saw it a plenty after. It seemed to me like every one in the countries of Denmark and Germany own Jack Wolfskin jackets. I saw them every where.

That in itself isn't so odd a thing, but we were taking the ferry over to NYC for the Social Distortion show and someone on the ferry had a Jack Wolfskin jacket on. Had I not seen the store in Kiel, I never would have noticed the jacket on the ferry.  Now I will see them everywhere I go.

Book Description (From Amazon):
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Payton Gritas likes everything just so-she even color-codes the pages of her school planner. But her perfectly organized life falls apart when she learns that her father has MS-and that her parents have been keeping it a secret. Payton refuses to speak to her parents about the illness and lands herself in the school guidance office where she's encouraged to choose a personal focus exercise to help her deal with her feelings. It's a completely ridiculous exercise, but Payton decides to try it. For her focus object, she chooses Sean Griswold's head. Sean and Payton have been linked since kindergarten (Gritas/Griswold-it's an alphabetical order thing) but she's never really known him. The more Payton focuses on his head, the more Payton becomes intrigued with Sean Griswold. Sean is training for a bike race, shares Payton's Seinfeld obsession, and seems to have a secret or two of his own. As their relationship develops, Payton realizes that it actually helps to focus on something else for awhile-especially something like Sean Griswold. But focusing on Sean won't fix her battered relationship with her father. For that, Payton has to focus on herself.

My Review:
I have to admit. I wanted to pick up this book based on the title alone. When I read the blurb, I was completely sold and bought it on the spot, which is so unlike me. Generally, I write the title down, order a sample for my Kindle, read the sample and then decide if I want to buy it. Let's face it, I have so many books to read, I am trying to be a bit more choosy with new authors to me. I am really glad I picked this one up, though.

Payton Gritas is a girl with issues. She has just found out her dad has multiple sclerosis. That she could deal with, but on top of that, she found out her two brothers have known about it for some time, but no one saw fit to tell her. She feels betrayed by her family because they lied to her by not telling her about her dad's illness. Not able to deal with the situation any other way, she takes out her anger on her family and has decided to shut them out. She won't talk to them anymore and she has shut down. She was on the basketball team, but quit after she found out about her dad's illness. She won't hang out with her friends and she has closed herself off to everyone and everything around her except her one best friend.

The fact that she will not speak to her family has caused the school counselor to get involved in her situation. The counselor, Ms. Callahan gives her an exercise. She tells Payton to start a focus journal. Payton needs to pick something to focus on and write about her emotions and reactions to the object. It is supposed to help her be able to open up and address the deeper issues in her life.

During a video in class, she thinks about what to focus on, but draws a blank until the boy in front of her turns around and speaks to her. And it is like she has had an epiphany. She decides to write about his head, Sean Griswald's head.

At first, she just focuses on the physical aspects of his head, size, shape, etc. But as she focuses on his head, she starts to find out a lot of things about Sean as a person. The more she learns, the more she wants to know. So she orchestrates some chance encounters for the sake of research and learns that there is a lot more to Sean than just his noggin which at first seemed way to huge to her, but starts to seem just right.

How does this help her with her dad? The journal allows her to focus on something out side of herself, so she can start to see things from a different perspective. Sean also tries to help her deal with her anger towards her family and give her a positive way to deal with her anxiety rather than turning it against those she loves.

Payton is at first very self absorbed and can only see the Great Big Lie in terms of how it effects her. She at first does not even try to see what it could be doing to other members of her family or how her father is dealing with the illness. She just knows that her life was perfect one day and the next day, not.

Through the focus exercises and getting to know Sean, Payton learns that they are positive ways to deal with issues and she learns to see things from another person's perspective, not just her own. Which is good because I wanted to smack her upside the head, but now I don't.

So we all learned something.


  1. Love a book that inspires such passion that you want to smack a character upside the head! And absolutely love the title! Great review!

  2. I get irritated with characters that wallow in their own misery and blame the world for all that is wrong with their life. They can't or won't see that they are the answer to their own problems. However, all is forgiven if they can manage to redeem themselves by the end of the book.
    The title intrigued me and that was all I needed to give this one a try. Sucked me right in.