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Monday, August 1, 2011

Review: What Happened to Goodbye (Dessen)

Title: What Happened to Goodbye
Author: Dessen
Genre: Fiction, Realistic Fiction, High School, Divorce, Relationships, Restaurants, Identity
Pages: 402
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is.

As a caveat, I am a HUGE Sarah Dessen fan. In fact, the highlight of my summer so far has been actually getting to meet her. So it was pretty safe to assume that I was going to like this book. But I don't want the fact that it is possible that I gushed over Ms. Dessen like I was a teenage girl to take away from this remarkable book.


This is a highly readable novel with well-drawn and believable characters, both teen and adult. No character is black or white, but all have shades of gray. Like so many teens, McLean is struggling to figure out who she really is, and desperately want to rid herself of being the daughter of scandal. McLean has reinvented herself, and I think that many teens will relate to this desire to try on a new persona.

I liked that this is not an angst-driven novel, but one where small moments make the story. This book has a smooth storyline that quietly unfolds and, as always, Dessen has perfectly captured the teen girl voice. McLean is building a community, both literally and figuratively. The friendships she makes are terrific (and this is due to the strength of the secondary characters). The dialog between the characters is authentic and Dessen does an excellent job of showing, not telling, the story.


And in case you want to see what gushing over one of your favorite authors looks like:

By the way, I just want it on record that in addition to the photograph, I was able to get an autographed book...and I sacrificed mine to get one personalized for my 22-year-old niece instead. She is a fan of Ms. Dessen as well!

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