I’m finally getting back on track with my Bookanista pals. Today I’m looking at Lindsey Leavitt’s SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD. Read below to see what I thought, but note there are a couple of SPOILER-ish things.

Here’s the official blurb from the publisher:

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.

As soon as I heard about the premise for Sean Griswold’s Head, I couldn’t wait to read it. I loved the idea of a girl taking a deeper look at a boy who’s been sitting in front of – literally – the whole time. I imagined the seemingly nice boy would have hidden depths and secrets, and the girl would learn a lesson about looking deep than a book’s cover.

That’s not the story I found when I opened this book on a train from New York City to Connecticut. Instead I was sucked into a story about a girl dealing – poorly – with the revelation that her father has MS. Payton doesn’t know how to deal with the emotions she has about her father’s illness, so she punishes her family with a wall of silence. It’s this silence that lands her in her guidance counselor’s office and with the assignment to find a Focus Object – some object she can focus her attention to gain a little clarity. Sitting behind Sean Griswold in biology, she decides to make his head her Focus Object. Of course, when she gets to know him a little better, she expands her interest – for scientific purposes – to his entire body.

I liked that the author gave me a little of what I expected and a whole lot of what I didn’t. I’m not sure I bought into who Payton was at the beginning of the novel, where she obsessed over details to the point of color-coding things and wanting a planner more suited to a thirty-something like me who works in the corporate world. Some of those details seemed a little far out, and I have to admit that Payton’s best friend, Jac, tended to steamroll over Payton in the name of friendship in a way that irritated me more than once. And part of me wished that Sean Griswold wasn’t *quite* so perfect through the novel.

Overall, though, I enjoyed this imperfect heroine and watching her fall in love for the first time at what seems like the worst possible time. And I appreciated the author’s portrait of a complex family dealing with an illness that is changing their lives forever. This book is definitely one I’d reread, which I think is about the highest form of a compliment you can give.

Check out the links below to see what the other Bookanistas are talking about!

Elana Johnson  points you to Human.4
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Christine Fonseca is impressed by Imaginary Girls
Shannon Whitney Messenger delves into The Future of Us – with giveaway
Scott Tracey and Shana Silver are wild about Wildefire
Carolina Valdez Miller shivers over The Eleventh Plague – with giveaway
Jessi Kirby celebrates A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie
Stasia Ward Kehoe embraces All the Things You Are