What Happened to Goodbye: a review

Posted 2 June, 2011 by Danny in / 14 Comments

What Happened To Goodbye
by Sarah Dessen
Published: May 10th 2011
Amazon, Barnes & Noble
(available as Kindle/Nook and audio-book editions)
Synopsis from Goodreads:

In the past two years, Mclean Sweet has moved four times. At each stop, she assumes a new persona, but it never quite works. Whether she’s an effervescent cheerleader or an intense drama queen, nothing can permanently dispel the turmoil and rage at her mother since her parents’ divorce. Sarah Dessen’s novel about a teenager and her restaurant manager father captures the vulnerability that young people often experience after the dissolution of their family. A compelling story; strong characterization; and with a touch of romance.

cutie’s got a brown nose:
When it comes down to it, I’m a Dessen fan-girl, for sure. She just knows how to wrap me up all snug and warm in her stories. From That Summer to Along for the Ride annnnnnd all the wonderful books between, I’ve gobbled every.single.one. of them up. And while not everyone of them is my all time favey fave, they all made me tear up and feel all…. oh… Dessened (which is my new word for becoming emotionally overwhelmed with the warm fuzzes and heartache whilst reading a book. I’m a genius, I know.).

Have I gushed enough? Should I stop arse kissing and get on with this review?


say! what’s this story all about?
What Happened to Goodbye is the story of a young girl (Mclean) who’s dealing with the aftermath of her seemingly picture perfect, made-for-each-other parents’ divorce. Having chosen to follow her dad around the country as he salvages restaurants form culinary disasters, Mclean decides to reinvent herself in each new town. A new name. A new persona. A new beginning free from the heartache and pain. Free from the questions about her parents’ well publicized break-up. Free from having to think or feel or just simply be. But when she arrives at Jackson High, she finds the past catching up with her. She’s actually making friend. Actually being real with them. And she just.might. be ready to face herself.

the one where cutie tells you what she liked:
As per usual, Dessen is a master at creating characters with deep roots and complex emotional damage. Mclean is compelling, sweet, angry, self-involved, broken, fun, and, well, a classic Dessen protagonist. She’s not only relatable but assessable. And while she is not my favorite Dessen protagonist, she is a solid contender for my top five. The love interest in this novel is adorkably wonderful, smart, funny, and yet strong. He too has his own issues that keep him interesting and heart-meltingly sweet. And Ms. Dessen combines a cast of new and old characters to create a well rounded support group for Mclean.

While this book is not on par romantically with The Truth About Forever or Just Listen, I did find the romance between Mclean and her geekly knight in dented armor realistic. If I were to compare the love story to another Dessen book I’d say it was more like Lock and Key, where the family issues and the growth of the protagonist play a major role in the story and the love story (while strong and interesting) takes a back seat. I hands down adored the Easter Eggs, which featured a cameo of one of my favorite couples, a visit or two from characters of old, and a few references that made me giggle.

the one where cutie tells you what she sorta didn’t like:
If there is one complaint I have, it is that the book did seem a tad bit rushed in some areas. But only slightly so, and I was a little unsatisfied with the ending. While I understand it is important for teen girls to realize that life isn’t all about romance and that young girls need to learn to find their way without leaning on a “man”, I did think the ending was a bit awkward. Or maybe I just wanted more romance… Also, I felt the “fix” to Mclean’s problems in the end were a tad unrealistic. I’d have to give away a ton of spoilers to further explain this… sooooo maybe that’s something I shouldn’t have brought up. *shrugs*

cutie gets real real:
I think, however, the thing that most tugged at me while reading this novel was just how much I could relate to Mclean. When I was a young girl and my parents divorced was finalized, my father living on one side of the United States and I on the other, there were so many times I wished I could just break away from reality. Claim a new name. A new persona. A new life. One where I didn’t have to face the reality of my parents’ failed marriage and all the pain and heartache it brought me. Then I just didn’t know how to deal with it. And so, I simply didn’t. Not until I was old enough to look myself in the mirror and finally face it head on did I find any relief. The way that Mclean deals with her own pain in the novel seems too out of control and unrealistic, but in all honesty, it matches almost perfectly my own longing to escape when I was a teen.

in summation:
From the moment I opened this book to the turning of the last page, I enjoyed every single moment I spent with Mclean. It is definitely a book I would recommend to those looking for a great summer read.

My Bookworm’s Rating:
Until next time–
Yours oh.so.very. truly,
Obsessive Reader by Night – Scientist at Day!
You can also find me on goodreads. I’d love to get to know you so, don’t be shy and say Hello!

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14 Responses to “What Happened to Goodbye: a review”

  1. New persona for each move? That's a compelling idea… I've heard a lot about Dessen, but haven't read her. _This sounds like a good place to start.

  2. soulunsung

    Oh, what a lovely review. Now you've definitely made me want to go out and splurge on this book. lol. And possibly break my book buying ban. Heh. 😉

  3. cutie

    It's a good book to just zone out on. But I feel that way about any Dessen book! =) I hope you enjoy it!

  4. cutie

    It's a goodin'. The very first Dessen book I read was The Truth About Forever and it has solidly remained my favorite of her books. Just throwing that out there. 😉

  5. cutie

    Truth be told, I broke my book buying ban for this one too!! And I'm soooo glad I did. =) Dessen is worth it.

  6. soulunsung

    See, I broke my book buying ban to get The Secret Life of Prince Charming, Along For The Ride, The Last Summer, White Witch, Black Curse, and Men of the Underworld. And the best thing, I didn't spend more than $25 doing it and got a nifty canvas bag to carry all of my books in.
    My recent post 001 WWWWednesdays!

  7. Hira Hasnain

    Hey cutie,

    This definitely looks like something I'd pick up. Now I am going to have to get my hands on a copy ASAP! 🙂

    ~Hira~

  8. hrose2931

    Sounds like you really enjoyed it. I haven't read anything but I have something on audio by her to listen to. I just haven't had a chance to get to it. I am hoping I'll like it. But you know me and audio books. But glad to know you feel so strongly about Dessen. Maybe I'll read a few of hers. Good review!

    Heather
    My recent post Guest Post from Cyndi Tefft Debut Author of Between

  9. Anonymous

    I enjoyed reading your review and this book too. It definetly wasn't my favorite sarah dessen book but I still enjoyed reading it. I think I loved the secondary characters, especially deb! A lot of people didn't think dave and mcleans relatiionship wasn't cute but I thought it was adorable, they were cute and flirty with each other. They're relation ship to me was just simple and I liked that, they grew closer as the story progressed. I loved the 2 am friend dave talked about and what you find out afterwards. And of course I always love finding those cameos of previous characters in dessens stories. Great Review!

  10. Anonymous

    I enjoyed reading your review and this book too. It definetly wasn't my favorite sarah dessen book but I still enjoyed reading it. I think I loved the secondary characters, especially deb! A lot of people didn't think dave and mcleans relatiionship wasn't cute but I thought it was adorable, they were cute and flirty with each other. They're relation ship to me was just simple and I liked that, they grew closer as the story progressed. I loved the 2 am friend dave talked about and what you find out afterwards. And of course I always love finding those cameos of previous characters in dessens stories. Great Review!

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