44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
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.
75 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2011
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. This was a perfectly enjoyable book that I would probably rate higher if it was by an unfamiliar author. And ii might not be fair to expect more of her than any other author, but she set my expectations high with her previous work, and I can't rate this book higher than 3 stars when I know that her best is much better.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2011
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."
The quirky characters are in full force here, from the staff of Luna Blu, the restaurant Gus has been brought in to work on, who on paper have no positive qualities but in life are what draw people to eat there, to the friends Mclean finds herself collecting, almost against her will, before she's decided which version of herself she'll be in this new town. Her parents' divorce having proven, to Mclean, that relationships can't last and will only hurt her in the end, she's been in the habit of forming only the surface-level friendships that gather her friends on Dessen's reimagined facebook, Ume.com, but no one she regrets leaving behind as she slips out of town after town.
With the family issues and Mclean's reaction to her parents' divorce and her mother's new life, Dessen is her usual self, confident in envisioning the impact the (very public) break-up of Mclean's life had on her. But that's the problem, maybe; Dessen is simply revisiting her usual territory of broken or breaking families, of teen girls meeting that first boy who will at end help them through their often hidden feelings about their families. What Happened to Goodbye often reads as though Dessen did nothing more than trudge through her old steps as she wrote it.
Dessen is a skilled writer of young adult, and she has undeniable talent when it comes to the interior lives of girls in high school. It's not a talent that she's growing, however, and her earlier books read as fresher than this one because she hadn't yet fallen into the mold that now defines her books. Dessen's last few offerings read as though they might have all been built on the same plot; simply edit character names and quirks and the specifics of family and you have, at heart, a string of books about teenage girls finding themselves in markedly similar ways. What Happened to Goodbye may be a comforting read, but it's not one that will stand time as well as Dessen's earlier novels, particularly That Summer and Someone Like You.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2011
I've always been a fan and advocate of Sarah Dessen's novels but "What Happened to Goodbye" has got to be her worst book. She dropped the ball on all fronts. Deb would've been a much better main character. As a friend said, " Plus, she had more chemistry with Dave than McLean with... anybody, really." I absolutely agree. A lot of moments in the story sounded so stiff and scripted. On top of that, Mclean wasn't even a very relatable character. Thus, I didn't sympathize or care for her. A few of the supporting characters seemed to have potentially interesting backstories (Jason, Deb, Riley) that were never told while the rest of the supporting characters seemed to serve mainly as plot drivers. Also, without revealing anything, some things in the story just didn't make sense. I call these, "Hello, common sense?" moments.
"What Happened to Goodbye" is basically one big, predictable cliche. I agree with reviews that say her last two offers were disappointing as well. I've been in denial, hoping the next novel would bring redemption but I cannot turn a blind eye to the latest mediocre offering any longer.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2011
I usually love Sarah Dessen's books, but this one didn't make the cut. Not one bit. The setting was interesting and the leading character's Dad adorable, but that's it. The romance in this book is pretty much nonexistent. I kept reading and reading, expecting something would happen between McClean and the boy next door but...nothing ever happened.
If you're looking to see a warm, beautiful romance in this book, you've been warned. There's nothing.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2012
Unlike Dessen's "What Happened to Goodbye", I'll keep it short and sweet.
Read these next few paragraphs and save yourself a whole lot of disappointment.
If you have NOT read Dessen's novels OR have plenty of patience and limited teen-novel-reading experience, go right ahead and buy this!
Mclean sees symbols and metaphors in absolutely EVERYTHING around her. While Dessen has pulled out a few symbols here and there consistently throughout her earlier books, this novel (like Along for the Ride) is overkill.
Want a few examples? town model, entering and leaving Dave's hangout through the stairs
Mclean can look at ANYTHING and makes it bigger, more significant than it is. It makes you wonder if she's missing so much from life because she's always psychoanalyzing everything and not living in the moment. (Dessen also fails with narrating Mclean's past. A few quick flashbacks wouldve been brilliant but no.....) If that was the case, then she needs a boy and new friends who can drag her out of her past and learn to forgive and live. BUT that is not the case here. Instead she gets Dave, who's fine on his own. When Dave is with Mclean, you would seriously wonder what's there between them. While Mclean's life and behavior can be seen as flawed and to some, therefore relatable and realistic, she sure is factory-made-flawed.
Mclean's character and Dessen's overuse of symbols killed this book for me. I was about done with it after 150 pages, but as a huge fan of her older books (except for Along for the Ride), I decided to stick it out and was only disappointed. You can predict the ending a mile away. I have a pretty, clean read-only-once hardcover copy of this at home AND I will save my friends from reading this.
Do yourself a favor. If you don't like it 200 pages in, drop it and move on to Dessen's other novels.
I think it's about time Dessen takes a short break and brainstorms better plots and characters.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2011
The plot was very anticlimactic and the main character was a bit of a cliche. This book was too reminiscent of past Dessen books, but poorly executed. Same stock characters as always. Don't get me wrong, I truly love Sara Dessen's writing, but this was very lackluster, somewhat unrealistic, and led by a rather bland character. Also, the standard boy love interest didn't really make it into the story that much....you kinda forgot they had a thing. I genuinely hope that Dessen blows us away with her next novel -- I know she's more than capable!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Sarah Dessen's books are never bad. They are always cute and fluffy and sometimes touch upon a very serious teen issue. However, some are very clearly better than others. For example, Dreamland, Keeping the Moon, Just Listen, This Lullaby are just some of the greats. Then you have the ones that are a bit on the meh side, like Someone Like You, Along for the Ride, and unfortunately, What Happened to Goodbye. Like I said, it wasn't bad. But it doesn't hold a candle to the ones I listed under the "Great" category above.
My main issue with What Happened to Goodbye was that it just meandered along. There was no tension and everything was anti-climactic. It was just a cute and fluffy read. I didn't feel that there was any substance in the book. Don't get me wrong. I do like cute and fluffy most of the time, but I feel that Sarah Dessen's recent novels have been solely that. I miss books like Just Listen and Dreamland where she focused heavily on teen issues like date rape, the catastrophe of abusive relationships, and eating disorders. I don't mean to say that the issues that teens are plagued with when their parents divorce aren't important, but I just feel like Dessen is no longer focusing on the darker issues that can arise from being a teen and is just focusing on the fluffy and light with a smidge of seriousness.
Also, I didn't feel any real connection to Mclean (and I loathed her name). She just didn't shine or sparkle the way other Dessen heroines have in her previous books. Dave was also a bit on the boring side. And together, there was a lack of passion that plagued them. They just weren't as interesting as they could've been. The other supporting characters, however, both shined and sparkled. I just loved Opal and Deb. In fact, I would've liked to read a whole book dedicated to them considering there seems to be untapped issues there that are just begging to be explored. However, one thing I did like in regards to Mclean were the issues with her parents. Now that was intriguing and relateable. Even though, I did feel the resolution was a bit too far-fetched.
So, I did like What Happened to Goodbye. It was a cute and fluffy summer read that I definitely recommend to those who have not yet read Sarah Dessen's works and therefore aren't yet ruined by her amazing books. They could read this book unbiased and truly enjoy it. However, those long-time Dessen fans may be a bit disappointed in this book as a whole. It wasn't her worst book (I think that was Along for the Ride), but it definitely wasn't her best. I hope that her next book is somewhat better
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2011
Okay, my love for Sarah Dessen has been restored. I own a ton of her books that I haven't read yet and I loved This Lullaby, but Along For The Ride let me down. I bought What Happened To Goodbye on a whim. I loved the idea of a girl moving from city to city, becoming a new person every time, but not really sure who she really was. I was going to give this author another try and I'm so glad I did. This book was a really nice read.
Mclean or Liz or Eliza or Lizbet or whatever name you want to call her, lives with her father after her parents divorce. Her father is sort of like the guy on Kitchen Nightmares who goes to a failing restaurant and saves it. This means a lot of moving and starting over, and Mclean has become a pro at it. She picks a name and a social circle and lives that life for a few months; never letting herself put down roots or become to attached to anything. But when she and her dad move to Tyler, she finds herself doing the exact opposite. Making friends and being herself.
I thought that this book was about Mclean meeting a boy and not wanting to leave, but really it's about her finding her identity and what exactly home really means. The story is a good pace and doesn't lag. Sarah Dessen has wonderful way of describing things that aren't too poetic, but enough so you really feel like you are watching things happen. If you read Along For The Ride you'll see some familiar faces, which was cool.
Overall, I'm really glad I bought this. It was a nice, relaxing read. Now I want to go read the rest of Sarah's books on my bookshelf. And if you don't laugh hysterically at the "basketball" scene.... Ha! It makes me giggle just thinking about it...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2011
After her parents divorce Mclean chose to live with her father who moves around revamping restaurants that are in the hole. Which also means Mclean gets to switch schools constantly and she takes these opportunities to create a brand new her at every school. Until she moves to Lakeview and accidentally uses her real name. And from that point on her journey starts in discovering who she really is, with the help of Dave her next door neighbor.
Sarah Dessen has alway been a hit and miss author for me. Besides Mcleans struggle to find herself not much else really happened in the book that made me just go "wow!" Even though I got to know plenty about Mclean, Dave and her parents I wish I had the chance to learn more about Dave's parents, Opal and Deb. I had a lot of unanswered questions in regards to them. Honestly when it comes down to it besides Mclean all the other characters although interesting were forgettable.
I did not enjoy this book as I hoped I would but I would still recommend it to teenagers since those are the years we try to "find" ourselves. I'm sure they will be able to relate to Mclean very well.