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What Happened to Goodbye Hardcover – May 10, 2011

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile; 1 edition (May 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670012947
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670012947
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (214 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2011: After a scandal involving her mother and a famous college basketball coach rocked her family and her old hometown, McClean decided to live with her dad. His job as a restaurant consultant requires they pick up often, and at each new place she carefully selects who she’ll be—Eliza, Beth, or someone else with a new name and different interests. It’s easier this way for McClean, who is reluctant to form any true attachments. Then at their latest stop, McClean does something she’s not done in a long while—reveal her real name. But who is this McClean and is she ready to forgive her mother, fall for the boy next door, and finally stick around? Fans of author Sarah Dessen will recognize her compelling dialog and characters so intricately-drawn it’s as if they’re the reader’s friends, too. Yet the real meat of What Happened to Goodbye is in Dessen’s mastery of the emotional ups-and-downs of McClean’s supportive relationship with her father and struggles with her mother. Keenly-observed and terrifically-written, Dessen’s latest is a delightful read about self-discovery and maturity that by the end is hard to say goodbye to.


"Dessen’s talent is creating just that comfortable space for young adults struggling with identity, relationships, and all that messy family stuff. Her quirky characters reach out to one another to forge genuine friendships and gentle first loves."
(The Horn Book)

"Dessen’s fans will be happy to devour this latest offering."

"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 once again offers a substantive, well-crafted exploration of a teen’s life that will deeply satisfy her legions of fans."

"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."

More About the Author

I've been writing, in one way or another, for as long as I can remember. I was always a big reader, mostly because my parents were. I used to get frustrated with my mom because she bought me books for Christmas when what I really wanted were the gifts my friends got, things like sweaters and jewelry. But I did love to read. When I was eight or nine my parents gave me an old manual typewriter and a little desk in the corner of our den, and I'd sit there and type up my stories. I was the kind of kid that people always sighed over and said, "She has such a wild imagination," which usually meant "I wish Sarah would try to stick to the truth." I have a tendency to embellish: I think it's just a weakness of fiction writers. Once you learn how to make a story better, it's hard not to do it all the time."The books I read when I was teenager, the good ones anyway, have stuck more in my mind than anything since. I still love books, but while I couldn't tell you complete plots of novels I read even six months ago, I do remember even the smallest descriptive details from Lois Lowry's A Summer to Die or Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I think it was because back then books were still somewhat new to me, and when I found an author who seemed to say just what I was feeling, it really struck me and resonated. I hope that my books do that for the people who read them: I think it's the best thing to which any writer can aspire. "As far as my other life, my non-writing life, I live in the country with my husband, some lizards, and two dogs who are completely spoiled and rule me completely. I like to work in my garden---although I have not yet perfected the art of keeping everything alive----and, in my weaker moments, shop. I have a bit of an addiction to the Gap clearance rack, to be honest. I have this strange need to buy huge quantities of black pants. How many pairs of black pants does one person need? (Obviously for me, the answer is 11 and counting. But I digress.) What else can I tell you? I love Starbucks mochas but they make me way hyper. I subscribe to too many magazines. I make a mean bean salad. I could go on, but the truth is, my books are much more exciting than I am, and that's a good thing. It's always more fun to make stuff up anyway."

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Customer Reviews

I love the characters, the story and the plot.
With Dessen's trademark beautiful writing, vivid cast of characters, and great balance of wit and emotion, I enjoyed every minute of this novel.
Hannah @ Paperback Treasures
It's like she knows exactly what to say to really make you feel like she knows EXACTLY how you're feeling.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By The Compulsive Reader VINE VOICE on May 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
When it comes to being the new girl, Mclean is an expert. She's made four moves since her parents' very unpleasant and very public divorce in her hometown two years earlier, and she's tried out a new persona in each place. She already has a new identity planned out for her arrival at Lakeview, but when she meets Dave, somehow her real identity slips out. Dave and his friends are not like the people she's met in the past, and in bonding with them over a shared community service project and the love of college basketball, Mclean is forced to be herself and make peace with her past.

What Happened to Goodbye is a smart, magnetic book about identity, relationships, and love that will make you wish you could crawl between the page and live with the characters in their messy world. Mclean hasn't really bonded with anyone since her parents' divorce, and while she gets along with her dad just fine, her relationship with her mom is tepid at best. Lakeview is full of surprises and unexpected friends, and Mclean is forced to connect with people. She finds a friend in her next-door-neighbor Dave, who is academically brilliant, but not always so social, and becomes friends with Deb, a loner with surprising talents. As she opens her real self up to these friends, she's forced to deal with her mother, who is pushy and seemingly ignorant of her daughter's resentment for her part in the divorce. Between college basketball games, working at her father's new restaurant and building a model replica of Lakeview, Mclean re-learns what it means to get to know someone and works at re-building a relationship she once thought was over and done, all the while fighting the temptation to cut and run when things get hard. A little romantic and very funny, What Happened to Goodbye is an excellent novel about relationships and friendship. Dessen has outdone herself yet again in this complicated, funny, and touching book.
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74 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer2011 on May 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I wish I could read "What Happened to Goodbye" with a clean slate. I wish I didn't have Keeping the Moon, Someone Like You, Dreamland, and This Lullaby clouding my expectations. I also wish I didn't have The Truth About Forever, Lock and Key, Along for the Ride dulling my palate. I feel like the plot of What Happened to Goodbye is too similar to her previous three books, and the quirk is too manufactured. It has become formulaic. Just like Mclean changed her wrappings from drama girl to student council girl to cheerleader, Dessen changes the wrapping from `girl with dead father, workaholic mother finds love' to `girl drunk mother, absent father finds love' to `girl emotionally reserved mother and father finds love'. It feels like they're all the same story a millimeter under the surface.

There are so many things to be enjoyed about this book, but overall, it's too weighed down by the ponderously heavy metaphors that Mclean seems to find EVERYWHERE. Leave a hospital=another place she's leaving behind; come out of a cellar=tunneling out of the darkness, someone passing her the potatoes, links on a chain. I know teenage girls are self absorbed, but come on. Not even the most introspective teenage girl can turn the end of every section into a metaphor about her life. It's impossible to be that self absorbed and still function in polite society. Also, she told us so much more than she showed us with this one, there were long weighty paragraphs dedicating to explaining characters' inner motivation. She didn't seem to trust us to make any of the leaps on our own.

All that said, Sarah Dessen could write a grocery list with more charm, depth, and realism than most of the YA writers out there.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Rhudy on May 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Sarah Dessen's latest offering, What Happened to Goodbye, fails not so much because it's an objectively worse book than any of her previous nine novels, but because it never emerges from their shadows. Dessen's made a career out of revealing the interior lives of teenage girls, surrounding them with "quirky" friends or co-workers and one sweet and long-suffering boy of the type that's never been seen in a high school, placing her characters in schools and towns familiar to her long-time readers. Dessen doesn't shy from family drama or classic moments of teenage self-doubt or introspection, but What Happened to Goodbye reads like a novel written from a mold. While the book provides a comforting read it's not one that's comparable with Dessen's earlier efforts for the simple reason that it tries too hard to reimagine what those books had.

Dessen here follows Mclean Sweet, the daughter of a former restauranteur and the wife who left him for the basketball coach of the family's favorite university team. Doing her all to avoid her mother and her new family (which includes two new half-siblings), Mclean moves across the country with her father,Gus, spending a few months in town after town as he attempts to resuscitate failing restaurants bought by his friend Charles's company. In each town Mclean renames and remakes herself, becoming "Liz" or "Eliza" or whatever iterations her middle name offers; but in her latest move, she is stymied in her efforts at self-recreation and becomes, again, simply "Mclean.
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