What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Juvenile, an imprint of Penguin
McLean and her dad have been living like nomads ever since her parents’ divorce. Her dad is a restaurant consultant who spends anywhere from two to six months in any given city, making over and managing a restaurant before moving on to the next place. And every town they’ve been to has been another opportunity for McLean to create a new identity for herself – she was artsy at one school, a cheerleader at the next, and a prominent member of student council at another. But their newest place has McLean feeling like she could really get comfortable. She meets Dave, her charming next door neighbor, and actually develops real friendships at her school. But just when she’s getting settled in, her dad starts showing signs of being ready to move on along to the next place. Will she be able to leave her new life – one she truly enjoys – behind, yet again?
I have loved all of Sarah Dessen’s books, and each time I sit down with a new one of hers I know that I am in for a treat. What Happened to Goodbye was no different – I flew through the novel and loved every minute of it.
McLean was such an endearing character. I truly felt for her, as she was trying to navigate the tricky waters of her parents’ divorce while also trying to carve out her own space in her new transient lifestyle with her dad. In order to escape from these stresses, she took on the habit of changing identities and personalities with every new town they lived in. I loved the little moments where McLean would realize that she could shed her fake identity and get to know her new friends as her true self. There was a lot of conflict in her life, but also many bright spots, and I felt that Dessen managed to balance these well.
One thing Dessen always does very well is create truthful, realistic teen romances, and she definitely did that in this book with McLean and Dave. Dave was so charming, and so caring, and just such a great guy – it was no wonder McLean fell for him! I really enjoyed how Dessen crafted their relationship to stem from a real friendship, and then took it from there to the next level. It felt very authentic and I really did believe it.
There is so much to love about What Happened to Goodbye. If you enjoy smart and entertaining YA, Sarah Dessen is an author not to be missed, and her latest novel delivers all the excellence I was expecting and more.