Title: What Happened To Goodbye
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Pages: 402 hardcover
My Rating: 5/5 stars
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.
Sarah Dessen has done it again. She has created a book that I could fall into with complete ease. Characters that I could connect with from the beginning. A town I would want to live in and people I want to be friends with because they all seemed so very real.
McLean does not have an average life. Since she is constantly moving around with her dad, she likes to become someone new in every town that she lives in. One day she is the ultimate joiner which includes clubs and student government. The next day she is a quiet drama/dancer type. The beauty of never staying in one place too long is that she got to reinvent herself with every move. However, when McLean and her dad land in this new town, McLean finds herself being….well herself.
She is thrown into several situations that catch her off guard and before she knows it she is being called by her real name and doing what she wants to do not what the character she is playing wants to do. I loved McLean from the beginning (I ALWAYS love those Sarah Dessen characters from the beginning). She has a mix of what I love from all other Dessen characters. She has spunk, she is a little controlling, she is a kind, loving person but she is also dealing with hurt and pain from her past.
McLean’s mother and father were great parents to her. They were loving and always there for her. However, McLean’s mother left her dad a few years ago for one of her dad’s greatest heroes. It is because of this that McLean decides to live with her dad instead of her mom. I love McLean’s dad! He may not be accessible all the time but he is still there for McLean when she really needs it. What I didn’t like though is that he allows her to take on so much responsibility. She sets up their house every time with all the necessary things like internet and cable, she grocery shops for them, she basically acts like a wife. I felt that her dad either failed to see it or failed to put a stop to it. Allowing her to take on so much responsiblity only helped feed her need to distance herself from the people in the towns they lived in.
We also see a lot of McLean’s mom. This is where I am kind of torn. I understood McLean’s feelings for her mom. Her mom hurt not only her dad but also McLean by leaving him. McLean wants nothing to do with her mom, hates having full-out conversations with her, and the thought of spending the weekend at the beach with her is enough to cause a major meltdown. While I did understand exactly where she was coming from, I was also angry with her for not giving her mom the time of day. McLean’s mom tries so hard to make things right with her, to try to make amends but McLean wants no part of it. I wished throughout several instances during the book that she would just put down her guard of hatred and let her mom be her mom again. This does show just how great of a person her mom is though. Even though she fell out of love with McLean’s dad, she still desperately wants to be a part of McLean’s life.
There were several aspects that I didn’t necessarily like with McLean’s relationships with her parents, but it was still realistic. I have felt that way towards my mom before, in fact there are times where I still do. There are also times where I take on a lot of responsibility especially with my younger siblings that most teenagers shouldn’t have to do. Sarah is so great at including very realistic lifestyles into books and she most certainly did that with What Happened to Goodbye.
Alright, now that I got the “tough” stuff out of the way, let’s get to the FUN stuff, the friends & the romance! I love the friends that McLean made during this book. Sarah Dessen did another great job of creating fun, quirky characters that helped to bring this book to life! Deb is the biggest sweetheart I’ve ever seen but she is also kind of wacky! She is truly a great friend for anyone that will give her the time of day. Oddly enough, it is McLean who introduces her to the group. Riley and Heather are two girls that could have a book all their own. They are so fun and open yet they are so different it causes for extremely entertaining bickering between the two. Plus they take McLean in without a second thought, she needs friends so they are there for her. Opal is an older woman but she is so great. She truly loves the restaurant she manages and she is so passionate about it. We get to see her a lot throughout the book and we find that she is a remarkable person. And then there is Dave….<3
Sarah never fails to make up a guy that melts my heart. Dave is so cute in a dorky way. You know those ultimate geniuses that are just too smart for their own good? Dave is one of them. Do you know those guys next door with the sweetest personalities? Dave is one of them too! He is super smart but also super funny & nice. He had a solid upbringing (if only a bit too strict) and he recently got into trouble for the first time ever. He spends a ton of time and energy trying to make it up to his parents. If that doesn’t show you a bit about his character then I don’t know what will! There is not much else to say except he is a great person, a great friend, and a wonderful person that McLean really connects with.
I will forever be a Sarah Dessen fan. Book after book by her is remarkable in its own right. What Happened to Goodbye is another one that can be added to the list! It is a realistic story about friendship, love, family, and finding yourself.