Thursday, December 12, 2013

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

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. (from GoodReads)

I thought that What Happened to Goodbye was really cute! Not my favorite Dessen book by any means, but a good read nonetheless.

It's hard not to compare this novel to The Moon and More because I read them almost one after the other. I definitely liked The Moon and More because I just wanted to live in Colby with Emaline and her crazy family. This book was slightly different because it takes place during the school year (most of Dessen's novels are set during the summer). It's really funny because Mclean does go to Colby and North Reddemine and some other locations that are featured in TM&M. I love how old characters pop up unexpectantly - like Jason who's a minor character in What Happened to Goodbye was also in The Truth About Forever.

I thought the restaurant aspect of this novel was the best part. I love the hustle and bustle and seeing Mclean and her dad try to save a failing business was really interesting. There's a great cast of characters, like Opal, Deb and Dave who add a lot of life and spark to What Happened to Goodbye.

The things that need improvement: I wish Mclean had a stronger voice. She was the typical narrator but was kind of bland. I think that's because she's so used to trying on these different personas and names that she didn't have an original personality. Also the romance between Dave and Mclean was pretty lackluster. He's an awesome character but definitely seemed more like a friend than lover.

The relationship between Mclean and her mom was definitely compelling. There's a lot of tension there in the beginning because Mclean blames her mom for her parents' divorce. Her mom did cheat on her dad... As someone with divorced parents, I could definitely understand Mclean's perspective. It was nice to see her and mom get a little closer though.

Not my favorite Dessen book but not my least favorite either. It's a great read regardless though.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library

2011/Viking Juvenile/402 pages.

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