My Beautiful Struggle + [tour]

Tour Review: Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books (March 1st, 2011)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 288 pages
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.
Review: Sean Griswold's Head was such a surprising story and one that I couldn't put down. I had first assumed this book was based around an unlikely love story but it was much more than that. There are several deeper aspects of this book.

Payton is a young girl who had a sweet personality and a stubborn streak. She makes good grades and lives a pretty typical life until she discovers a family secret. Her father has multiple sclerosis (MS) and they didn't tell her. This was devastating for Payton. Her father went from having a successful career and an outgoing nature, to being unable to dress himself, seemingly overnight to Payton. For a while, she refused to speak to her parents. She blamed it on the anger from them keeping such a big secret from her, but she was terrified of what this disease meant for her father. Payton was used to having control of her life, as she shows by being compulsively organized, but this was something she had no power over.

Since she's refusing to talk to her parents, they tell the school guidance counselor. She suggests to Payton that having a focus object may help her, and keeping that information in a journal would help her get her thoughts down. And this is where we meet Sean Griswold. Payton had known him for most of her life but never really talked to him. She normally sat behind him in class and decides that maybe his head would make a great focus object. Soon, he becomes more than just a head and she learns more about who Sean actually is.

Payton and Sean begin to talk and Payton's research makes her eager to find out more. She learns he loves to bike ride so she takes advantage of that knowledge and decides to go riding with him. This opens up the door to their friendship and it was sweet, realistic, and caring. Eventually, Payton realizes maybe she likes Sean more than she first realized and the feeling seems to be mutual. But will her fears allow her to open up?

Jac, Payton's best friend, was someone with good intentions but maybe not the best strategies for helping Payton. She was a spunky, fun young girl but maybe a little too ambitious when it came to getting Sean to first notice Payton. But their friendship ran deep and it was easy to see what brought them together.

This book does give a lot of attention to the family relationship within the Gritas home. Her father came off as loving and supportive of Payton. Her mother was more shut off but her pain over her husband's illness soon became visible. Overall, they very much seemed to embody a typical family and all the drama that can be attached.

Sean Griswold's Head is full of heartbreak and love that readers will completely dive into. Payton's relationship with Sean presented a sweet romance that readers will enjoy seeing unfold. Lindsey Leavitt did a fabulous job of getting into each character's"head" and showing how some teenage drama is about more than puppy love. As Payton proves, the devistation of a family member's illness can be the biggest pain of all.