Review: What happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

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.

First, I must admit that this was my first Sarah Dessen book (gasp!)  Although one of the most well -known contemporary YA authors out there, I just haven’t been pushed to pick up one of her works (until now).  I really needed an audiobook for a long drive and I happened to come across What Happened to Goodbye.  The audiobook itself was narrated wonderfullyMeredith Hagner by Meredith Hagner. She nailed the ‘teen voice’ bang on (especially Heather).

The storyline itself was OK.  The very character driven book focused largely on McLean’s relationship with her parents and the aftermath of her parent’s divorce.  Since the storyline is slow and steady, some parts did drag on.  However, since the characters were so well developed, it was easy to feel for them as well.  I felt McLean’s anger toward her mother, and her protectiveness over her father.  Yet, I did not really feel the whole romance connection between McLean and Dave.  There was not enough focus and exploration of this relationship to really convince me.

I enjoyed the restaurant aspect. It reminded me of being in an episode of ‘kitchen nightmares’ minus the terrifying Gordon Ramsey.  I used to work at a restaurant so the descriptive kitchen scenes transported me right into the chaos of dinner rush.  I could almost taste the fried pickles!

Overall, this contemporary book deals with some sensitive issues that many teens can identify with, including identity and family issues.  See more praise for this charming book below.

“Readers can count on Dessen; she’s a pro at creating characters caught at a nexus of change, who have broken relationships and who need to make decisions.” (Kirkus Reviews )

“Dessen’s prose is clean and focused, the characters are developed and real, and the plot is believable. Mclean’s journey through the healing process after her parents’ divorce provides bibliotherapy for any teen dealing with family issues, and the secondary plot of tentative steps toward trust and friendship is beautiful. This is a must-have for any young adult collection.” (VOYA )

 

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