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  • Review: Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

You know how it feels when you read a book you can relate to so much it just hurts? That's what I was feeling while reading this Dessen book.

Title: What Happened To Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Pages: 402
Release Date: June 2nd 2011
Published by: Puffin
Source: Publisher (Thanks, Tina!)
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository

Summary (from Goodreads):

Another town. Another school. Another Mclean. Ever since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her father have been fleeing their unhappy past. And Mclean's become a pro at reinventing herself with each move. But in Lakeview, Mclean finds herself putting down roots and making friends—in part, thanks to Dave, the most real person Mclean's ever met. Dave just may be falling in love with her, but can he see the person she really is? Does Mclean herself know?

What Happened To Goodbye was a beautiful, yet tiring read for me. I do not mean "tiring" in a bad way, but the feelings it invoked from me was just too overwhelming to cope with. It brought out the good, the bad and the ugly feelings and memories. It's a personal read.

Mclean had moved from town to town with her father, never staying at one place for too long. And with each move comes a new identity. She was Liz, Lizbeth, Eliza. A popular kid, a studious girl, cheerleading captain, it was different every time. She's been on the road with her dad ever since her parents ugly and very public divorce. Basketball and cooking were her world once, but all of it was destroyed when her parents split up. Now she's in a new town where she finds herself being just her, Mclean, no pretenses, no new identity. But who really is Mclean?

All the right ingredients were there for me to love Mclean. Smart, albeit a little bitter. She's a skeptic and cautious of relationships. But in truth she was just a sad girl who longs for her family to be whole again, to feel like she's part of something, to be loved. Basketball was her entire life, her dad was a former player and she was named after a great Defriese coach who passed away. A new coach arrived and everything fell apart. She woke up one day and found her mom cheating on her father, with the NEW Defriese coach, getting pregnant shortly after. Now all the things she loved were a painful reminder of her mother's betrayal.

I will be honest here. I hate Mclean's mom. I have something against people who wreck marriages and families, they're the worst kind of people, and maybe that personal experience made me skeptical of her all the time. Whatever Mclean was doing to hurt her mom was wrong but it felt right for me. She deserved that pain and suffering. And though Mclean was with her dad all the time, she wasn't as better off with him as she was with her mom. They weren't the best of parents, that's why Mclean became who she was, someone who reinvents herself every time she gets, longing for a fresh start, a clean slate, because what she has was something crappy and irreversible.

What made me loved this story were the supporting characters. Opal and her struggles with a dying restaurant chain, Deb, the pretty helpful girl in school who nobody wants to hang out with, Heather, Riley and Ellis and their weird, quirky personalities, and Dave, the super cute, super smart boy who, with one mistake, was seen as a delinquent who lives next door. They were perfect examples of people who are so different, but ended up being a part of each others' life because of Mclean. Dessen's other books were not without romance, and What Happened To Goodbye had only a few short moments of those, not enough for readers to be tickled pink and be giddy over. But I am glad that whatever bitterness, tragedy and pain and disappointment the characters went through at some point, they were able to find happiness in the end.

Is it really that easy to talk and treat each other like nothing happened when you've been through a very public divorce? It's one of the things that confused me in this book. It felt forced, like it was easy to forget the hurt and pain they all went through. I was unconvinced with that part. But setting aside that confusion, and all my disagreements with it, What Happened to Goodbye was worth all my brooding and going emotional over, and I couldn't help ending up loving it.

What Happened to Goodbye is contemporary at its best. It's a raw, unflinching, powerful portrayal of one girl's pain and struggle. Of Mclean finding out who she really is after she had been someone else so often. Values and lessons about family, friendships and love can be learned from reading this wonderful story. If you aren't a Dessen fan just yet, pick up a copy of this book and you will fall in love with her writing after you finish reading this.

Content (plot, story flow, character):


.5
Shining: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:
Gorgeous! That cover is Mclean told using pictures.



I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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