Monday, March 5, 2012

What Happened to Goodbye

I was so excited to finally get the chance to read What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen.  I love waking up in the morning and getting the email from the library saying that my book is in and waiting for me on the reserve shelf.  Don't you agree?

I love reading a book that is in your favorite genre and from an author that you really like; this book filled both of those areas.  I picked this book up last Wednesday, when I was on my way to take a Glucose Test for my pregnancy.  It was perfect to be able to sit and read this book for an hour without any interruptions.  However, I didn't have to worry about finding time to read this book; I read during any and all free minutes throughout the week.  This book was a quick read, and I found myself a little bummed when the book finished.

There are many reasons why I enjoyed What Happened to Goodbye, which is Dessen's most recent book released a year ago.  Dessen technically wrote the book quite well, and she intricately brought the characters to life.  I found myself enjoying each and every one of their little quirks, and I found myself wanting friends just like them.

In every Dessen book I have read I love and yet hate the struggles the main character goes through and the choices she (b/c all of her main characters are girls) makes.  There are times in the story when you, as the reader, can see the characters choice is a bad one, and you find yourself so invested in their life that you are afraid of the consequences that choice will bring.  However, just b/c you can see a characters bad choice doesn't mean the story is predictable; it was predictable at times, but it had enough originality to it as well.  It really is a well written and enjoyable story, but this is coming from a girl that really enjoys realistic fiction books.  I also loved that this book is completely clean; you don't have to worry about any language, sex, or drugs.  What Happened to Goodbye is just a clean and enjoyable story.  You should check it out.

McLean, the narrator and main character, is a teenage girl who is finding herself after a messy divorce between her parents.  Everything she knew and loved about life and people before the divorce drastically changes after the divorce.  I know that there are many young adults, and adults even, that can relate to McLean.  Eventhough I haven't experienced family drama like McLean I still found plenty of things to relate to in this book.  Throughout the story, and even at times unknown to McLean, she has to find out who she really is, and not what others want her to be; she had to find out who she really wanted to be.  Along the way McLean tried out many names and personalities, and even though her path to finding herself wasn't always what she, or you as the reader, expected it still ended up with her finding the real McLean.  I think that is the path everyone in life has to make one way or another.

Amazon had the following book description for What Happened to Goodbye:  "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."

I also found value in including Amazon's editorial review: "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."

Overall, I would give this book 4.5 stars out of 5; I'm not sure why I wouldn't give the book a perfect 5, but I find it awfully difficult to give, and for a book to receive, a perfect rating.  However, despite a rating of not quite a perfect five, this was a fabulous book!  Plus, for those North Carolina friends it has strong similarities to the Duke/UNC basketball rivalry.  I enjoyed the basketball rivalry reference from Dessen, a UNC alumni.  Go Heels!

Next up on my reading list is the Newbery Winner, Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos.  I just recently got that fabulous email from the library telling me it's my turn to read it.  I'm excited to see what this Newbery winner book is all about.  I'll keep you posted.  After Gantos winning book I'm going to check-out Entwined by Heather Dixon; Sarah, a new blog reader, told me she loved it.  Thanks for the recommendation, Sarah!

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this book as well as any questions or recommendations on other books.

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