What Happened to Goodbye: A Review

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah DessenMclean Sweet used to have the perfect life. But that was years ago and miles away. Before her parents’ bitter divorce. Before she and her father started moving from town to town like it was going out of style.

It was long before Mclean started reinventing herself in each new town. Eliza, Lizbet, Beth. All of her personas have a different story: cheerleader, drama nerd, student government junkie. It’s easy to live the part once you choose the role, once you let the moments choose you. Especially when none of them are the real Mclean. Especially when Mclean doesn’t even know who the real her is anymore.

Things are different in Lakeview. Instead of adopting a new persona for this newest town, Mclean starts being herself–or as close to it as she can be anymore. Seemingly random moments come together leading Mclean to friends and maybe even a home all while forcing her to do the unthinkable: just be real in What Happened to Goodbye (2011) by Sarah Dessen.

What Happened to Goodbye is Dessen’s tenth novel and, as it turns out, this one proves that her writing really does live up to all of the hype.

Dessen’s writing is literary and immediately appealing as she evokes not only a town and a lifestyle but also Mclean’s emotions as she struggles with what it means to make a place for herself in yet another new community as Dessen brings up a lot of interesting threads about what family, and home, really mean.

The story here meanders towards the end in a way that makes perfect sense and ultimately fits perfectly for the story and the  characters. And happily so since What Happened to Goodbye is all about the characters–Mclean, of course, but also her friends and her family as well. Every bit of this story is character driven and all of it comes together to great effect in a book that is really quite lovely.

Possible Pairings: Drawing the Ocean by Carolyn MacCullough, The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti, Moonglass by Jessi Kirby, This Raging Light by Estelle Laure, After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy, The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

*This book was acquired at BEA 2011

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