Saturday, September 20, 2014

Book Review: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

ISBN: 0670012947
Published: May 10th, 2011
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Read from September 8th to 12th, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
Combining Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.


It's been about four years since I last read a Sarah Dessen book. I kind of want to hang my head in shame. Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors and the author that got me into reading young adult in the first place. This is another book that I've owned almost since it came out, but I'm only just now getting around to reading. Hopefully I'll manage to get her other newer book as well before her newest comes out next year.

I really did enjoy this book, which is what I was expecting going in. I think the idea of moving to new places and constantly getting to be new people always seems like something people want at a certain period in their lives, but it's not something most people actually get to do. I loved that aspect of the book, and I loved the idea of McLean finally getting kind of ambushed into being herself for the first in in two years. I think that provided a great story about being yourself.

Another favorite aspect of the book for me was McLean's relationship with her mother. I loved that that was part of the story. At the beginning of the book, I really did feel the same frustration with her mother that she did, but as time went on, my feelings towards her changed as McLean's did. I liked seeing that explored.

Then there's Dave. I don't even know where to begin with Dave. Dexter (from This Lullaby) has been my favorite Dessen love interest for a while, but Dave came him a run for his money. I still think Dexter wins if I'm being honest, but Dave probably beat Wes (from The Truth About Forever) out from second place. He was a lot of fun, as were his friends. This book had an all around great cast of characters.

Speaking of Dessen characters, we get cameos from various characters from other Dessen books. Heidi appears briefly as a friend of McLean's mom. Jason also appears throughout the book. Funny thing about that is, I hated Jason in the other two Dessen books he appeared in (it was just two, right?), but he grew on me in here. I think that's because he finally seems to have matured, so I was happy to finally see him being a like-able person. The funnest cameo though came from Annabel and Owen. Their names aren't even mentioned, but they're sitting on the wall when McLean sits down at lunch on her first day. Just Listen was my first Dessen novel, so I have a huge soft-spot for Annabel and Owen. (They're basically my favorite Dessen couple even if they're not actually my favorite Dessen couple.) I loved having them thrown in there even really briefly.

I think those who enjoy Sarah Dessen's other books will enjoy this one as well. I know the romance usually gets emphasized in her books, but for me, the story of McLean discovering who she is, finally making friends as herself, and repairing her relationship with her mom were really what this book was all about. Dave was just a really nice bonus to the story.

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