Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Say Goodbye When You Say Hello

What Happened to Goodbye
Written by: Sarah Dessen
Released: May 10, 2011 by Penguin Young Readers Group
Summary: Who is the real McLean?

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.

Combining Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

This was my first ever Dessen novel and it’s not about to be the last. I can say that with must assuredness because I have most of her other novels now sitting on my shelf from picking them up at used book stores.
This particular novel I was privileged enough to get while at BEA this past May and I was able to get it signed by the author. I’m not sure why it took me this long to read it (though not quite as long as the time between then and when this review is being posted), but I think I was a little unnerved by the amazing things I’ve heard about Dessen’s novels. I’ll even admit that I started reading this novel a month or so before I actually sat down and read it; the first time I didn’t make it past the first few pages.
I, apparently, was an idiot.
Sarah Dessen has an amazing writing style. Her characters are realistic and relatable, her writing flows well, and it’s just an amazing reading experience.
McLean felt to me as though she was really able to face a lot of her fears and problems in this novel but it was the way that she dealt with everything that made her interesting in my eyes. I can’t imagine it being easy living through a divorce like she did and the circumstances that surrounded it but by reading this novel I get a pretty good idea of what it would be like for someone. I could see where the need to constantly become someone else from town to town would stem from and how it would feel like a release from how life really was while still being rooted in it. I don’t think that, had McLean of taken on a new persona in this novel instead of her real one, that the novel would have been as enjoyable.
All the supporting characters in this novel were great to read as well and I loved how they were just normal. There wasn’t that breathtakingly beautiful guy who sweeps the MC off her feet, there wasn’t the overly dramatic BFF character, and there wasn’t the absent parent (well, not really). They were all normal people who you would find in a small town far from the city. Hell, you would find these people in my town.
I think that may be why I enjoyed this novel so much – was that it could have been my town. Still, no matter what the ultimate reason was, I really did enjoy this novel and I can’t wait to read more. Plus, I think I’ll read Dessen’s novels all in order now since apparently characters from previous novels make appearances!
Overall, I’m giving this novel an 8/10.

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