What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
From the inside flap:
“Another town? Another new school? Mclean really doesn’t mind. In fact, she welcomes the chance to try on a new persona. Ever since her parents’ bitter divorce, she and her father have been on the move, leaving the unhappy past behind them. And each move has brought a fresh opportunity for Mclean to reinvent herself. Perky rah-rah-rah girl. Drama mama. All-round joiner.
But here in Lakeview, for the first time she’s putting down roots, making friends and just trying to be someone she hasn’t been in a long time: herself. Dave has something to do with it. He’s the most real person Mclean’s ever met, and he thinks he’s falling in love with the real Mclean. Mclean doesn’t even know who that is anymore, but she wants to find out — before it’s time to move on again.”
I’m a big Sarah Dessen fan. While I’ve not yet read all of her works, I have yet to read one that I didn’t enjoy.
I’m far from being a teen, but I really connected with this book. My parents went through a very nasty divorce. My relationship with my mother was worse even than Mclean’s relationship with her mother. But, Mclean was a much more mature teen than I was.
What I liked about this book: Dessen does an excellent job of conveying not only Mclean’s pain but the fact that she doesn’t realize that what she feels is not just anger, but pain as well. At some point in our life we all wish we could reinvent ourselves. McLean gets to do that, but wisely, Dessen’s character realizes that you can’t do that forever. At some point you have to be the real you. Dessen also touches on just what makes a home. This quote from the book is one that I particularly liked: “Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place but a moment, and then another, building on each other likes bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.” Rather a long, but beautiful way of saying ‘home is where the heart is.” I also liked that McLean and her dad seem to be both reinventing themselves with each move. It might not be so obvious with Gus, but just like McLean he knows that he doesn’t have to get too involved and that if he does, there will soon be an out. The secondary characters are well developed also, though I would have liked a little more insight into the relationship Dave has with his parents. Dave is well developed, but his parents (and how they have influenced him fall a little flat.) I also liked Deb and how even though in the beginning her attempts to fit in are rebuffed, she doesn’t give up.
What I didn’t like about the book: There were to things I didn’t like. First: the pacing slows down towards the end. It doesn’t drag so much as making it impossible to finish, but I did feel as though it was begging to drag on too long. Second and this has nothing to do with the writing, but I didn’t like Mclean’s mom. . It’s a personal thing. I didn’t like how she just couldn’t stop forcing herself on McLean. She couldn’t accept that she had damaged her relationship with Mclean and was hurt and offended that McLean wouldn’t just immediately accept her back into her life. Ok, to be fair, I have mother issues. So it was rather hard for me to cut her some slack.
Fans of Sarah Dessen will enjoy this book, but I also recommend this for anyone who has not yet read one of her books. Dessen deals with teen issues ranging from the light to the dark. Her books are always well written and are an enjoyable read.