Saturday, June 25, 2011

[Review] What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Title: What Happened to Goodbye {goodreads}
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 02/06/11
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Source: For review from publisher
Age: 13+
Pages: 400
My Rating:

Another town. Another school. Another Mclean. Ever since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her father have been fleeing their unhappy past. And Mclean's become a pro at reinventing herself with each move. But in Lakeview, Mclean finds herself putting down roots and making friends—in part, thanks to Dave, the most real person Mclean's ever met. Dave just may be falling in love with her, but can he see the person she really is? Does Mclean herself know?
My thoughts: 

My first Sarah Dessen book, and I found it a delight to read. The prose may have been a bit longwinded at times, but it was a light read that engrossed me from the first page. I loved the symbolism and the cheesiness. I enjoyed the conversations between daughter and father, and daughter and mother. The whole "changing identities" with the names with each move seemed really realistic, and I could definitely see why Mclean would have done that.

The book sounds simple, and I think it's that simplicity in the plot that allowed me to just relax into it. There wasn't any new world or concept I needed to conjure up in my head. It was all there, and just easy to read. The prose is beautiful, inspired and written with careful precision. There's definitely a lot of detail, as is the usual with contemporary. A refreshing change for me, actually.

I love that Dessen tackles this "problem" from an all-round perspective, meaning that the divorce between Mclean's parents not only affected who she knew. It also distorted the real her, because it was too painful to keep on being Mclean. Her friends and family and sense of place and "home" and all of that -- she forgets what those things really mean. And the ending is really nice because of that revelation.

The cover! Love it. The different little things that are just spilling out of the suitcase that are relevant to the book? How brilliant is that? It also sets the right tone and mood to the book, in my opinion.

All around the characters were just great. They all varied in certain quirks and characteristics. I found myself getting a bit attached to the main characters (Mclean, her dad Gus, Dave) as well as some of the secondary (Deb, Opal, ~Riley).

As others have mentioned, would've liked a bit more of a romance. I did like Dave though. Their conversations are cleverly executed, realistic.

The length can be a bit overwhelming, and it was perhaps a bit too much. This goes with the longwindedness of the book at times. 400 pages, and while there is an immaculate amount of detail in the book, it felt a bit slowgoing at times. However, as I said before it was a nice and relaxed read, and I felt like I was reading it at a good time.

The ending felt a bit too simple. I just sat there wondering "THEN HOW COME ALL THIS WAS SUCH A BIG DEAL 50 PAGES AGO?!?!), because it all got resolved too easily? Anyone else felt that way? But other than that, I just loved this book.

What Happened to Goodbye is an elegantly crafted, carefully written book that teens can relate to: not quite knowing who you are and how you fit in the world. If I had been handed this book when I was a reluctant-to-read young teenager, I would have been pleasantly surprised.


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I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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