What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen. Published by Viking (a Penguin Group imprint). Read in April, 2011. ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.
A Fast Five View:
1. What Happened to Goodbye is very much a Sarah Dessen novel – which is a wonderful thing! If you like Ms. Dessen, you have probably already read this one. Ms. Dessen writes contemporary fiction from a teen girl’s perspective that deals with common themes like family, trust, friendship, love, figuring out one’s self and one’s place in the world. Each book is like…going for a bike ride on your favorite bike (to borrow from one of her novels). Getting on the bike is comfortable and familiar, but each time you ride, you experience something new and original. I am definitely a Dessen fan.
2. I thought this was a unique look at how a teen deals with her parents’ divorce. Mclean lives with her dad and puts up with frequent moves instead of staying put with her mom, which is not a scenario often seen.
3. I loved the way Mclean has “re-made” herself every time she had to move. I imagine it is a universal desire to face a new school year and decide that this is the year to change X, Y, or Z. Yet almost every time, the effort fails within the first week of school. I loved seeing someone who manages to accomplish this goal – several times!
4. The romantic relationship between Mclean and Dave is heartwarming without being overly schmoopy.
5. One of the frequent themes in Dessen’s novels, and seen here, is the question of “what exactly is a family?” You can be born into a family. You can marry in to one. You can be adopted (in both a literal and figurative sense) in to a family. But families can often be created in other ways, around other relationships. The family that Mclean finds in building the town model is an excellent example of this.
I believe this is Sarah Dessen’s 10th novel, and it is fantastic.