Published May 1st, 2011.
Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Who is the real McLean?
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.
Combining Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.
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This is my favorite Sarah Dessen book so far. It was fun and heart-warming, with a cutesy slow-building romance, and overall adorable. I loved it. The thing with Sarah Dessen books is that even if they're fluffy and unpretentious summer reads, I find that there's always something lacking in her books, but for the life of me I could't find a reason to take away one of the stars this time. It was just the perfect summer read.
McClean is in her senior year of high school and has being moving from town to town with her father after an ugly divorce that left her life in unrecognizable pieces. The whole divorce theme was really well done, being a kid of divorced parents myself, I found that all the feelings, emotions and reactions were accurate and felt real to me. I could relate so much to McClean, she was such authentic character. It felt like I knew her ever when she didn't even knew herself all that well. I was able to see a lot of what went down in my parent divorce throughout the story and that really surprised me.
Obviously my dad is not a brilliant chef and my mother didn't leave him for a superstar basketball coach or anything like that. But my dad was a basketball player and fan too, which made it so easy for me to relate to the whole theme. Also, I know a lot about how you feel like you need to put the blame on someone after a divorce and how everything is so complicated and how it feels like it'll never be the same again. I felt so enraged at the way McClean's mom was behaving and screamed at the book what a bitch she was a few times. I felt so hard for McClean and what she was going through because my relationship with my mother went down exactly like that and I couldn't believe how everything in the book was so close to reality for me.
The whole identity crisis McClean is going through as a way to cope, felt authentic and not just something to try and make the character more interesting which I really appreciate. I just loved how imperfect she was and how hard she tried to be better. She was an amazing character.
Most of the characters were amazing, actually. I loved Gus (McClean's dad) because he was so childlike, really whimsical and funny and pulling through as best as he could. I loved Dave and his weird ways. I even enjoyed Deb and Heather, and for most people they would fall in the "acquired taste" category.
Overall, I just really loved this book. It inspired me to keep on reading more of Sarah Dessen despite some disappointments I've had with some of her books in the past.
About the author
Sarah Dessen grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, graduating with highest honors in Creative Writing. She is the author of several novels, including Someone Like You, Just Listen and Along for the Ride. A motion picture based on her first two books, entitled How to Deal, was released in 2003. Her eleventh novel,The Moon and More, will be published in June 2013. She lives in North Carolina.