Review Blog

Jul 05 2011

What happened to goodbye by Sarah Dessen

cover image

Penguin, 2011. ISBN 9780141337791.
(Age 13+) Recommended. Sarah Dessen has the happy knack of writing about people that come alive on the page. Mclean, the product of a bitter divorce, is moving from one town to another with her father as he sets up restaurants. In each new place she reinvents herself as Elizabeth, Eliza, Lizbeth and Beth, until she is not sure just who the real Mclean is. But when she arrives in Lakeview, she discovers the boy next door and begins to make friends. Will Dave be able to see the real Mclean or just one of her many inventions?
I always enjoy Dessen's books and usually devour them in one or two sittings as I did this one. Mclean is a very intelligent girl who has the ability to take on any role that she wants, from perfect student to popular girl. I found it fascinating to think about Mclean trying on some many different personas and worried that she would lose herself in the many moves. However Dave the boy next door and the people she meets make her think about herself and who she really is. She has to make up her mind whether this will one place where she does say goodbye to the people she knows, or just leaves them in the lurch as she has in other places.
Dessen explores the fallout of a divorce in a moving way. Mclean has a loving relationship with her father, whom she has elected to live with, even though it is disruptive of her schooling. She hates the high profile of her parent's divorce and refuses to have anything to do with her mother or her new sibling.
A journey of self discovery and coming of age, What happened to goodbye will join Dessen's other books, as a favourite for girls who like contemporary books, with issues that touch the heart and a touch of romance.
Pat Pledger

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