Monday, April 25, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Release: May 10, 2011
Pages: 416
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Source: Publisher / Bought
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 her neighbor Dave, an academic superstar trying to be just a regular guy, can help her find more of this summary.
"Your past is always your past. 
Even if you forget it, it remembers you." (368)

Mclean Sweet is a girl with many pasts - perky Eliza, dramatic Lizbet, all-around-joiner Beth. But in Lakeview, she gets a chance to a be Mclean Sweet for once. The only problem is that Mclean isn't quite sure who that girl is anymore. In this new town, her old tricks for claiming a new identity fail miserably, her disconnected relationship with her mother is starting to get more persistent, and even the rules she and her father have been living by start to change...But with new friends - from surprisingly unique Deb, to brainy, quirky Dave, and laid-back Riley - Mclean will have to come to terms with the girl she really is...whoever that may be.

As with Dessen's other novels, What Happened to Goodbye captures what it's like to be a teen dealing with whatever issues you've got going on. From Mclean's complicated feelings towards her mother and her new step-family, to her experiences in a new town with new people - it's all realistic and Dessen makes Mclean an easy character to enjoy and relate with. It's easy to be lost at Mclean's age, and I think we can all understand the appeal of being someone else to escape our problems. The plot is a bit different from Dessen's other books, while still maintaining her usual charm and knack for forming complicated and endearing relationships between characters.

With flawed characters, heartfelt moments, and one girl's discovery of what it means to be yourself, What Happened to Goodbye is sure to be an enjoyable story for any bookworm.

Highlights: Dessen is truly the queen of realistic YA fiction (*cue bowing*). She writes that genre perfectly, and her writing is like home to me - a place of comfort and familiarity since I grew up reading her books. She always infuses each story with a likable heroine, a meaningful plot, and an overall endearing effect. The biggest surprise was Jason (Yes, the same Jason I hated in AFTR and TTAF). Shockingly, I liked Jason in this book. And Deb - can I say that I love Deb? She came across as very clichéd in the beginning, but then the more you get to know her throughout the story, the more surprises you'll find. This story is heartwarming and worthwhile - I'd definitely recommend you check it out.

Lowlights: Dave. I liked his quirkiness but I didn't really know too much about him by the end. More about him (as well as Riley) would have been nice. Also, it can obvious to any Dessen fan that her novels tend to be a bit formulaic.

Allusions: Jason and Lakeview from The Truth About Forever; The summer town of Colby, Last Chance Cafe, and I think Isabel (but I could be wrong) from Keeping the Moon; Heidi and Thisbe from Along for the Ride; and possibly more characters/places that I'm forgetting.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

My reviews of other novels by Sarah Dessen:
Keeping the Moon
Along for the Ride


  1. Good review. I feel kind of bad now..I haven't heard of Dessen until recently and I feel so left out right now. :(I shall buy one of her books soon! Thanks for posting this! :D

    *~` `~*

  2. Great review! I love Sarah Dessen books. I like how all of them you can relate to the characters right away!

  3. I LOVE Sarah Dessen! Her books are so fantastic. I can't wait for this one to come out. Great review!

  4. I haven't read a Dessen book in a long time, but I'll pick this one up. I think you're right that she's more of a formulaic writer, but her writing is still done well so it makes it worth it in the end. Thanks for the review!

  5. I want to read this so bad, great review Lea! It sounds just as good as her other novels.

  6. I have never read anything by Sarah Dessen. Would this be a good place to start? Do I need to know the characters from the other novels to enjoy this one? Lots of questions, I know. This does sound like an interesting story.

  7. I haven't read a Sarah Dessen book yet but I've heard they're marvelous. Thanks for the review!

  8. So cool that characters from previous Dessen books shows up in this one!

    Dessen's books never disappoint!

  9. Totally made me want to read this more now that I know characters and places from previous books show up in this one.

  10. Eep, I basically agree with everything you said :) I'm a Dessen-worshiper, Queen of YA Contemp for sure :) Yes to both Jason and Deb, and like you, I wish there was more to Dave :P Anyways, awesome review!!!

  11. I've yet to read any of Dessen's work. I totally need to!

  12. Can I first just say: "I AM SO JEALOUS YOU HAVE READ THIS ALREADY!!" Now that that is out of my system... I agree that Sarah Dessen is Queen! I can't wait to read this!

    <3 Happy Reading!
    Patricia @ Patricia's Particularity

  13. Another winner from Dressen? - why am I not surprised. Thanks for the great review!

  14. She also referenced Owen and Annabelle from Just Listen.