What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Published: May 10th, 2011
Publisher: Viking (Penguin Group)
402 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: From the library
Challenge: The Keeping it Real Reading Challenge
Warning: may include spoilers
Other reviews of Sarah Dessen’s books: Along for the Ride
Synopsis: Who is the real McLean? Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And 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. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.
“Your past is always your past. Even if you forget it, it remembers you.”
Sarah Dessen has been one of my favorite authors since I was about sixteen. She has this style of writing that’s both simple and profound, and touches your heart. Her characters are memorable, relatable and lovable.
That being said, What Happened to Goodbye was not my favorite Sarah Dessen book. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but it felt like it was missing that magical quality that I’ve found in all the other books of hers that I’ve read.
McLean was a very relatable character. Who hasn’t wanted, at some point in their lives, to have the chance to reinvent themselves? McLean may not have chosen the circumstances that led to her reinventing herself multiple times, but the personas were her choice. She was who she decided to be in each new place because she didn’t know who she really was until she was forced to be just McLean again. I really felt for her.
All the other characters were great too. I loved McLean’s new friends and the restaurant workers. I would get so angry with her mother when McLean was talking to her on the phone, and frustrated with her dad for not being more present in McLean’s life, and for not seeing what was going on with her.
I don’t know though, there was just something missing. I guess part of it is that I would have liked to see more development between McLean and Dave. Usually I end up swooning over Dessen’s male leads, and although I liked Dave, I didn’t fall in love with him as I have with many other of Dessen’s male characters.
Regardless, the writing was incredible, as always. Dessen has a real way with words, and a way of inserting these subtle but powerful messages and revelations. I can't wait for her next book - I hope she doesn't make us wait long!