Monday, May 23, 2011

What Happened To Goodbye (YA)

What Happened To Goodbye. Sarah Dessen. 2011. Penguin. 416 pages.

The table was sticky, there was a cloudy smudge on my water glass, and we'd been seated for ten minutes with no sign of a waitress. Still, I knew what my dad would say. By this point, it was part of the routine. 

I love Sarah Dessen. I do. I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her work. I love her characters, her stories, her writing. I love how easy it is to love her books. She makes it easy to love reading. There's just something wonderful about them. I've never once been disappointed. So it shouldn't really surprise anyone that I loved What Happened to Goodbye.

Mclean Sweet sometimes wishes things could be as simple as loving her dad and hating her mom. Since her parents have divorced, Mclean has had to reinvent herself again and again and again and again. Her dad has a job that requires him to move around a lot. He's been hired by a company to "fix" problem restaurants. (Think Kitchen Nightmares with less yelling!) Sometimes he's able to "save" the restaurant, and they move on to the next place, the next town or state. Sometimes he's not able to save a place--no matter how much time and energy he puts into a place--and they move on. In each town, Mclean gives herself a new name--a new personality, a new identity. Knowing that she can recreate herself into someone new--if only for a few months--gives her a sense of peace. Temporary peace, perhaps, but it helps her cope with what her life has become since the divorce. The divorce that she totally blames her mom for. I mean how could HER mom have an affair with the head coach of her dad's favorite basketball team? How could she become pregnant and leave them both behind? Why doesn't her mom get why she is so angry? Mclean feels she just doesn't belong in this new family with her half-siblings and her stepfather.

But she does find herself belonging here in this town, in this school, with her wonderfully strange friends, with her wonderfully strange neighbor, Dave. For the first time in a long time, Mclean can practice being honest--with herself, with her boyfriend, with her friends, with her dad, with her mom. Perhaps it's just as difficult for her to be honest with her parents as it is to be honest with herself. For in all her inventing, Mclean has lost pieces of herself. She's lost herself and buried her pain deep, deep inside. But it may just be time for Mclean to heal. In Lakeview, she may just find the support she needs.

I enjoyed this one. I liked Mclean. I liked her parents. I liked how complex these relationships are. How life can't be as simple as hating her mom and loving her dad. I liked how challenging these relationships are. I liked how we get Mclean's perspective--but not so blindly that readers can't see things from the other side. And it was great to see her relationship with her dad. How much she loves him and takes care of him. But also how he's there for her when she needs him. He's not perfect, but I do think he cares very much for his daughter. Her friends. I also liked them. Especially Deb and Dave. I love how eccentric yet believable her characters are! And I liked Dave as the love interest!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


alisonwonderland 11:09 PM  

I'm almost done, and I'm loving this one. My 15yo daughter and I got to hear Sarah Dessen read from the book and talk about her work a couple of weeks ago, and that was wonderful too!

Lena Sledge 11:13 PM  

I love books where daughters have good relationships with their dads. That warms my heart.

Jessica 12:50 AM  

You are probably going to think I'm crazy but I've never read one of her books! I definitely need to though!!!


Melissa 12:30 PM  

Oh, that does sound like some Sarah Dessen delightfulness. I hadn't heard she had a new one out; thanks for the heads up!

Leen 2:22 PM  

I've read one book of her and I really loved it so I'm planning to read more of her

DebD 11:30 AM  

my daughter is a huge Dessen fan. I'll have to tell her about this one - if she doesn't already know (which she probably does).


Lisa 8:41 PM  

I just stumbled on this blog and really liked it. I just started one myself so I appreciate how much work it can be. I wish mine looked as good as yours. I like also how you read and review many different genres. I also don't like to limit myself to one or two genres. I had never heard of this author before either but now I think I will look for her book. Thanks for the tip.

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I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
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4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
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