Â TITLE: What Happened to Goodbye
AUTHOR: Sarah Dessen
GENRE: YA Contemporary
FORMAT: eBook, 266 Pages (2011)
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 her neighbor Dave, an academic superstar trying to be just a regular guy, can help her find out. (from Goodreads)
Mclean has let herself be defined by her parent’s divorce. SheÂ jumps on the opportunity to essentially run away from everything relating to the divorce by going to live with her father. She doesn’t deal with her emotions and instead hides in the new personalities she creates for herself in each new town, knowing that she’ll be able to reinvent herself in a few months.
I found that it did a wonderful job of addressing how a child feels after their parent’s divorce and the unfortunate tendency of parent’s to think what happens between them doesn’t impact the child.Â I did enjoy the characters and book but something throughout lacked for me. I liked Mclean; I understood her pain and sympathized with her. I was completely on her side about how she felt about her mom and understood why avoiding was easier and bringing up the painful subject. Where the story lost me was how Mclean ended up dealing and resolving her feelings towards her mom. It just didn’t work for me.Â There was a similar situation inÂ The Sea of TranquilityÂ and I found that the way that author revealed the main character’s pain to her family and how it brought her and the family to talk and start to resolve their issues so well that I was hoping for something similar here but didnât get it. The catalyst between McLean and her mother didnât work for me: it felt sudden and the shift in McLeanâs attitude too sudden. I knew that Mclean would eventually start mending the fence with her mom but I wanted more of it. I wanted to read more about her mom talking with Mclean and making dealing with what she says. So much of the story and Mclean is defined by her mother’s actions towards herÂ yet at the peak of their story, I felt it fell flat.
I really loved Opal; the manager at the restaurant McLeanâs dad is consulting for and Deb, McLeanâs neurotic friend. They were wonderful characters! I liked Dave. I thought that there was a nice parallel between Mclean who likes reinventing herself completely andÂ Dave who has been defined as the “brainy” kid by his parents his whole life and is now trying to find the balance between being the brainy kid and a regular teenager (the path that Mclean is ultimately own in this story). Dave was a good love interest, albeit the love story is very secondary. I found he was a good match for Mclean and enjoyed their interactions. I just wished we had had more of them. Another aspect that I liked was how Dessen is able to have female and male characters be just friends, in this case Dave and his best friend Riley. It’s always refreshing to see that clichÃ© be broken and not deal with the “jealous best friend” storyline.
Overall I enjoyedÂ What Happened to Goodbye. It does a really good job ofÂ portrayingÂ the pain of a child of divorce. Dessen continues to excel at writing believable and sympathetic teenagers. While this is not my favourite Dessen novel, it’s still a great story about healing, rebuilding relationships and finding a new place for yourself.