Author: Sarah Dessen
Release date: May 10th 2011
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
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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 rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Oh, Sarah Dessen. She really is the queen of contemporary YA. Excuse the cheesiness, but opening one of her books is like coming home - comfortable and just right. There's just something about her writing that makes it so easy to get lost in the story, to fall in love with her characters. And What Happened to Goodbye is no exception.
I love the way Sarah Dessen sets up her stories. I know that sounds vague and weird, but I just mean that she always has great scenarios that she puts her characters into, ones that are a little too crazy to actually happen to one of us, but never unrealistic. In What Happened to Goodbye, that's the family situation, which I loved. I don't even want to explain any of it because I loved discovering all of it on my own, but it's the perfect balance between out there and relatable, and I loved it. I also love how this scenario relates to the whole restaurant-thing - such a great backdrop for Mclean's story!
Mclean is a typical Dessen girl. She's easy to like and relate to, and her past is fascinating. She doesn't fall into any category easily, making it harder to figure out who she really is, but that's a big part of the reading experience. My only problem with her is that, at times, it annoyed me how reluctant she is to commit to anyone - yes, I get that's the point, and the book wouldn't have worked without it, but there were still parts where I wanted to take Mclean by the shoulders and shake her. Then again, that's what makes Dessen's characters so real.
Then there's Dave. Oh, Dave. Sarah Dessen definitely succeeded at torturing her readers with a tantalizingly slow romance. The romance never really takes center stage, which I appreciated because it works well with the story, but which also annoyed me to no end because Mclean and Dave are so freaking CUTE together. While Dave is not my favorite Dessen boy (that title will forever belong to Wes from The Truth About Forever), he definitely holds his own. What Happened to Goodbye has the perfect amount of swoon.
Another character I loved is Mclean's friend Deb - such a distinct personality! I wish we would have gotten to know the rest of her friends as well as we got to know her - Riley, Heather, and Ellis seem like they each have their own stories to tell, and I wish we could have know a little more about them.
All in all, What Happened to Goodbye is another great one from Sarah Dessen. With Dessen's trademark beautiful writing, vivid cast of characters, and great balance of wit and emotion, I enjoyed every minute of this novel. It's not my favorite of her books, but it's a solid addition to her collection of great contemporary YA novels.