TITLE: What Happened to Goodbye
BY: Sarah Dessen
GENRE: Contemporary, Young Adult
PUBLICATION: May 10, 2011 by Viking Juvenile
RATING: 3 1/2 Blissful Pages with Lilies
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.
Everyone is something.
Confession: This is my first ever Sarah Dessen Book. It’s not a secret that I’m not a huge fan of Young Adult Contemporary genre so maybe that’s why I haven’t picked any of her books before this one. Or maybe it’s because the blurbs of her books scream teen angst and usually depression which I’m trying to avoid thanks to my own mental state. But last week, while cleaning my bookshelves, the title of this book caught my eyes. I’m doing the POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE, and one of the prompts is “A Book with a Question in the Title” and this book is perfect for it.
And surprise, surprise, not only did I cross out one prompt in the challenge, I also ended up liking the book. For some reason, I found this book relatable even though I usually find everything teen-ish annoying. I don’t mean this in a bad way but sometimes, most of the things in YA contemporary seems so childish and eye roll-inducing. It’s unfair though because in reality most teens are unlike what portrayed in YA books. Sure they have their fair share of dramas but not as childish. In this book, I found some things amusing and most relatable. Maybe because I found the main character, McLean relatable right from the start. And to be honest, I’m a little envious. I know what she’s going through and been through is hard, but I always have this strange dream of living a thousand different lives in different places. Aside from that, I truly understand why McLean chooses to be a different person every time she and her father moved.
Obviously, the main theme is McLean and her having an identity crisis but along with that is her relationships which brings me to the characters. I really love the dynamic of characters, like hands down. Each character is well-developed and has depths, though my favorite would be Deb and Opal. I enjoyed Mclean’s interaction with all the characters; from her new-found friendship to her family. I didn’t find the family drama too much. In fact, I was thankful that it took center stage in the plot. I love how everything with her family, especially her mom, was resolved in the end. But sadly, I can’t say the same with the romance. It was OK but that’s the problem, it’s only OK. The blurb implied as if the male lead Dave would be a real big part of McLean’s character change or development. Sure he was a part of it but it was a little underwhelming. Her interactions with Dave are too lacking.
I think it has something to do with the fact that the whole book has no real tension or maybe a driving force. You know most stories start with a status quo and then the inciting incident and then from there, everything seems suspenseful and you can’t wait to see how it will end. This book has none of that. It just started and then went on till the main character resolved her internal and external issues. Maybe the inciting incident is when Mclean and her father moved or maybe it’s when she met Dave but it doesn’t feel that way. It’s like the tension is flat or remain at the same line from the beginning through end. I’m not saying the story has no depth, because it has, it just lacks tension.
Overall, this is still a pretty good read and came from me who’s not a fan of this genre, that says a lot.
What do you think of this book? Have you read it? Or planning to? Let’s chat?