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What Happened to Goodbye Hardcover – May 10, 2011
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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." — SLJ
"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." — Booklist
"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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Here now finally that I have actually read the book I feel badly that it took so long for me to give it a chance. The story, characters, and romance in What Happened to Goodbye are nice, strong, and charming. I'm not saying it is Keeping the Moon or even Just Listen but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot was not hollow or perfectly predictable. The issues on the table were complex and interesting to delve into. Even the side topis were interesting.
I would recommend that any Dessen fan even those that have felt put out recently to give it a shot. It won't be your favorite but it is a good read nonetheless.
If I had to complain it would be that Dessen seems to be entirely too interested in referencing former locations and characters. I think this is more distracting and hollow than it is enjoyable. Using the same locations is one thing but inserting all the old characters awkwardly just isn't enjoyable to me especially since it seems slapped in rather than carefully fit in.
It also comes off as a bit rushed in the end. I think this has always been the case for Sarah Dessen as she really likes the build up and not so much the resolution and I am sort of okay with that. It leaves you to draw your own conclusions. There was also maybe less resolution with the romance as there normally is and I didn't love that but I did get it. The books ultimately thesis is coming to terms with who you are and that is something entirely independent to teenage romantic relationships and I appreciate that she didn't make it seem like it was. The romance was still fulfilling in my opinion.
In summary it is not the best or worse of her works but it was thoroughly enjoyable and a positive step back towards charming quirky romance.
What Happened to Goodbye has all the usual elements in a Dessen book, but I felt that the characters of Mclean and Dave were lacking the usual chemistry, plus, to be honest...they were sort of boring. I found that I was much more interested in one of the secondary character, Deb, wishing that there was a book where SHE was the main character. From the small details that Deb revels in What Happened to Goodbye, it's clear that she definitely had an intriguing back story.
Still, it was a worthy effort and not a bad read for the discounted price.
That being said, this book was a let down. Even if I'd known it wasn't going to be great, I would have read it, but I want to voice my disappointment.
I think my problem was that this book tried too hard to be everything and was too full of cliches. There were many times when it seemed like the writing was wrapping up, but there were still many more chapters to go. I thought maybe I had just grown out of the writing style, but I re-read one of my favorites "Just Listen" and alas, I still love that one. I've started "The Truth About Forever" again as well (you know, just to be sure -- mostly I just missed the characters) and it is still one of my favorite books I've ever read. I really just couldn't connect to McLean, as much as I wanted to. I wanted to love this book. I pre-ordered it (which I never do) because I was so excited. It had a great idea behind it, but just was not as well written as her others. I'm hoping this was just a fluke, and am hopeful for anything else she may write in the future.
Most recent customer reviews
Hot Toasty Rag, May 8, 2017
What Happened to Goodbye was my first Sarah Dessen read; I'd heard many good things about her...Read more