16 May 2011

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen


Another Town? Another new school?

Mclean really doesn’t mind.  In fact, she welcomes the chance to try on a new persona.  Ever since her parents’ bitter divorce, she and her father have been on the move, leaving the unhappy past behind them.  And each move has brought a fresh opportunity for Mclean to reinvent herself.  Perky rah-rah girl.  Drama mama.  All-round joiner.

But here in Lakeview, for the first time she’s putting down roots, making friends, and just trying to be someone she hasn’t been in a long time: herself.  Dave has something to do with it.  He’s the most real person Mclean’s ever met, and he thinks he’s falling in love with the real Mclean.  Mclean doesn’t even know who that is anymore, but she wants to find out—before it’s time to move on again.

Perceptive, touching, surprising, Sarah Dessen’s eagerly awaited new novel creates a world her legions of fans will not want to leave.

So after having read nine of her previous novels, I may bit a bit biased but I really love Sarah Dessen’s new book.  If you haven’t read any Sarah Dessen books before (I pray for your deprived soul), then this review is mostly for you.  But if you’re a long time running fan of Sarah Dessen, then all you have to know is that this book doesn’t disappoint.  In fact, you should already know that cause you should have already bought and read it by now.

The one thing I really love (among many other things) is how Sarah Dessen uses everything in her books.  She’ll mention something in the beginning and tie it back in at the end.  It’s done in such a way that you remember what it was and now it’s significant. 

Also, she connects her novels, which is so much cooler than I can say.  For instance, in What Happened to Goodbye, I’m pretty sure we catch a glimpse of Owen and Annabel from Just Listen (but you kind of have to infer).  We also have an appearance (actual speaking lines) from Heidi, who just starred in Along for the Ride.  This continuous looping of her character’s lives is so cool and original.  So I’m starting to look for the connections every time I pick up a Sarah Dessen book.

Every Sarah Dessen book has a theme—a specific topic that she tackles and introduces a romance to offset.  This time around it’s Mclean and her identity issues.  This is a theme that I think all teenagers can identify with no matter who you are.  (I’ve been told that a major identity crisis should occur at least once during your teenage years—part of “the deal” apparently.)  And really, I found a strong connection with this book.  Mclean was easy to relate to and she’s got a similar relationship that I have with my parents.

Seeing Mclean’s life though was really akin to a wake up call.  I’ve always wanted to start over the way she did.  Being molded into Your Place, especially when you’re in high school and unable to break out of it…it’s stressful if you think about it too much.  So I can really respect how Dessen put this story together.

Really, though, every girl has to agree that the best thing about picking up a Dessen novel is the dudes.  Dave was a beast.  I love how he was a child genius but it wasn’t flaunted around—just shown subtly through Dave’s various hobbies and his weird parents. 

But anyways, this is how I want a guy to ask me out:

“So,” he said as we turned onto the main road, the muffler rattling, “I’ve been thinking.”

”Yeah?”

He nodded.  “You really need to go out with me.”

I blinked.  “I’m sorry?”

”You know.  You, me.  A restaurant or movie.  Together.” He glanced over, shifting gears.  “Maybe it’s a new concept for you?  If so, I’ll be happy to walk you through it.”

”You want to take me to a movie?” I asked.

”Well, not really,” he said.  “What I really want is for you to be my girlfriend.  But I thought saying that might scare you off.”

I felt my heart jump in my chest.  “Are you always so direct about this kind of thing?”

”No,” he said.  We turned right, starting up the hill toward downtown, the tall buildings of the hospital and U bell tower visible at the top.  “But I get the feeling you’re in a hurry, leaving and all, so I figured I should cut to the case.”

”I’m only going to be gone a week,” I said softly.

”True,” he said as the engine strained, still climbing.  “But I’ve been wanting to do it for a while and didn’t want to wait any longer.”

”Really?” I asked.  He nodded.  “Like, since when?”

He thought for a second.  “The day you hit me with that basketball.”

”That was attractive to you?”

”Not exactly,” he replied.  “More like embarrassing and humiliating.  But there was something about it as a moment…It was like a clean slate.  No posturing or pretending.  It was, you know, real.”
Excerpted from the hardcover edition, pgs. 323-324

Now personally, I preferred her original title of Cut and Run.  The true title honestly sounds like a bad daytime soap opera, but someone obviously liked it.  I think Cut and Run has more edge, has a simpler meaning to it.  Ah well.

Overall, Sarah Dessen uses her signature flawless writing style, humor and perfect timing to introduce another great book about figuring out who you are.

Book Info:
  • pages - hardcover, 402
  • published – May 10th, 2011
  • publisher – Penguin Young Readers Group/Viking/Speak
  • genre – contemporary fiction
  • rating – 5/5
  • received via – Borders :)
  • other Sarah Dessen novels -
    • That Summer
    • Someone Like You
    • Keeping The Moon
    • Dreamland
    • This Lullaby
    • The Truth About Forever
    • Just Listen
    • Lock and Key
    • Along For the Ride
    • What Happened to Goodbye