Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Release Date: May 10, 2011

Rating: 5/5 Hoots

GoodReads.Com Summary:
In the past two years, Mclean Sweet has moved four times. At each stop, she assumes a new persona, but it never quite works. Whether she's an effervescent cheerleader or an intense drama queen, nothing can permanently dispel the turmoil and rage at her mother since her parents' divorce. Sarah Dessen's novel about a teenager and her restaurant manager father captures the vulnerability that young people often experience after the dissolution of their family. A compelling story; strong characterization; and with a touch of romance.

My Review:

I really enjoyed this book because Sarah Dessen is so talented at creating realistic characters. Mclean Sweet is not perfect, but you can definitely identify with her. She has been thrown into a situation with no good solution, but she tries to do what is right. I appreciate how her parents had depth- they aren't painted as heroes or villains, but real people who sometimes make bad choices. Mclean's conflicted feelings about her mom were totally believable, and I liked that Dessen didn't trade in realism for a nice, neat ending. I think lots of readers can relate to trying to do the best they can in a situation they don't have much control over. I like that although Mclean is young, in some cases she acts more mature than her parents.

Mclean's new friends are great too...I LOVE Deb who is much more than she seems at first. Her neighbor and love interest, Dave is sweet. I liked seeing their relationship slowly unfold. Opal and the other restaurant workers are funny and endearing.

I love all the details and backstory Dessen includes, like Mclean and her Dad's love of basketball, the beach trips she takes with her mom, her Dad's job as a restaurant consultant, and the city model project Opal ropes them into. All these little things combine to make a convincing story.

Some of the other reviews I read faulted the book for a lack of action, and while I would agree that it isn't action-packed I don't think that's a bad thing. Most of the real-life tough situations we have to work through are probably not single, dramatic events but an ongoing struggle, like the one Mclean faces daily- she doesn't want to hurt her Mom, but she also can't pretend that everything is okay.

This is a great read for people who enjoy books that focus on characters and relationships.

I also have to share a fangirl moment:  This book also has a great librarian who helps the MC...I appreciated her being portrayed as young, friendly & cool instead of as a stereotype, so I tweeted about it. Imagine my excitement when Sarah Dessen herself replied!!! She said, "Truth: all the librarians I know are cool. For real!" *Squee!* So, I have to conclude that she is as nice as she seems in her blog!

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