Title: What Happened to Goodbye
Author: Sarah Dessen
Summary (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.
Review: Not the best summary there, my dear Goodreads. What Happened to Goodbye cannot be described in two sentences.
Sarah Dessen has done it again. FINALLY she has released a new book, and it has lived up to the hype. Her writing is once again flawless and gorgeous. It draws me in until I can't put the book down! Honestly, she inspires me as a reader and a writer.
Now, I finished WHTG approximately 45 minutes ago, so I'm still processing. Please excuse any ramblings in this review, as my thoughts are still fresh and unrefined.
This book left me with a very different taste that I am used to from Sarah Dessen--it reminded me in some ways of Lock and Key, in which the male protagonist, Nate, has just as many secrets and issues to work out as the female lead, Ruby. This makes sense, as Sarah Dessen named Dave and Nate the "oddballs" of her love interests in this article...that apparently no longer exists. Sorry about that. But Mclean and Dave's relationship is similar to that of Ruby and Nate in that they aren't an obvious couple--they just kind of meld together to the point where you know they love each other, and they know it, and they know the other person loves them, but they don't feel the need to announce it.
Anyway, Mclean is a fabulous protagonist. Who hasn't ever wished they could start over and be someone else? Especially if you know it's only temporary. I know I have, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to start over in a sense at college in the fall. However, Mclean's various personas are her way of hiding from what's going on in her real life, her Mclean life. That is, until she moves to Lakeview. She makes friends, real friends this time, to her own amazement. For once, she doesn't want to leave. She's actually being herself, and she doesn't want to risk losing the people who actually like her for who she is, not who she claims to be.
Let me just say that I loved the basketball references in this book. Basketball is basically my life, so I could relate to Mclean's near-obsession with her father's alma mater. I feel like basketball is often an underrated sport in this country, so it was quite nice to have it addressed as a "religion", the way of life for most of Mclean's new gang (which is ironic, since she's moving around to get away from the implications of the basketball world...but that's beside the point).
To those who have read Dessen's other novels, have you noticed a trend among the mothers? There is always a riff between the protagonist and her mother in some way. My friend pointed this out to me after Along For the Ride, and now What Happened to Goodbye has followed suit. Perhaps this is just supposed to generally reflect the stereotypical mother-daughter problems of teenage years. However, Sarah Dessen's books never strike me as stereotypical. Thoughts?
Maybe because I read it so fast, or maybe because I'm still processing, but What Happened to Goodbye didn't have the WOW factor I've found in Dessen's other books, like Just Listen and Along for the Ride. Maybe because I could relate to those girls' stories more that Mclean's broken family life. I don't know. HOWEVER! What Happened to Goodbye is an AMAZING novel that adds to Sarah Dessen's brilliance as a writer. The only problem? Now I'm counting down for her next book.
Recommended for: all teenage girls--or even young-adult women, or even moms.