What Happened to Goodbye – Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Release Date: 2nd June 2011
Other Titles by this Author: That Summer, Someone Like You, Last Chance, Dreamland, This Lullaby, The Truth About Forever, Just Listen, Lock and Key, Along for the Ride
Mclean never lets herself get too attached...
After the scandal of her mother’s affair, Mclean and her dad chose life on the road. But since losing her family and home, Mclean lost herself too; she’s been Eliza, then Lizbet, then Beth – changing her name as often as she changes towns.
Until now. Her neighbour, Dave, is like no one she’s met before. It’s as if she’s always known him, and just like that, she becomes Maclean again. Is it finally time to stop reinventing? Or will Mclean turn her back on the new life she loves, without even saying goodbye...
Sarah Dessen always hits the spot with her real and heart-warming tales of a girl discovering who she is and what she really wants. What Happened to Goodbye was in no way an exception.
Having read Sarah Dessen’s blog for a very long time, I almost feel like I know her. And pretty well at that as they are often fairly personal and detail her life as it happens. Because of this I know of her love and undying support for the Chapel Hill basketball team so the importance of basketball made me smile as it was a piece of Sarah in What Happened to Goodbye. It was the same with the focus on restaurants as I know that Sarah worked as a waitress after university while she wrote and sold her first novel, That Summer. For me, these inclusions were priceless. To see my favourite author so fully and vibrantly in one of her novels makes it even better.
Another of my favourite author quirks is when characters from previous novels make cameos. There were actually a fair few in What Happened to Goodbye. We had Jason from my favourite Dessen novel, The Truth About Forever, working in Luna Blu; Heidi and her shop from Along for the Ride and the Last Chance Cafe from Last Chance/Keeping the Moon pop up in the novel. And each time one of her characters reappears I remember all of the many things that I loved about that novel.
But where Sarah Dessen really shines - often in a way that many other authors just can’t - is her characters and their relationships. As always, the cast of supporting characters are vibrantly and realistically drawn. The colourful Opal, intriguing Riley, Deb who’s full of surprises and a bit if a Dessen heroine in herself and her dad. I loved how Mclean reached out to Deb when no one else would because she knew exactly how it felt to be on the outside and how she looked after her dad in the aftermath of the divorce and her eventual friendships with Riley and the others. And then of course there is the new Dessen boy: Dave. He is very different to those we’ve had in the past. He’s super-clever, a little nerdy and pretty uncool in the grand scheme of things. But I loved him. And though he doesn’t quite top Wes (The Truth About Forever) or Dexter (This Lullaby), he gets a nice third in my list.
However, I think that the most important relationship in What Happened to Goodbye was definitely that between Mclean and her mother. I completely understand Mclean blaming her mother for destroying her family and hurting her dad. She had every right to not want to talk to her or spend time with her. But she couldn’t carry on like that. Your parent’s relationship, or its break down, has no bearing on their love for you. And this is what Mclean learned. Though it took arguments, harsh words and eventual heart-to-hearts, she got there in the end. And I love that this issue was tackled so beautifully, sensitively and realistically.
Sarah Dessen is my hero and I will wait with bated breath for her next masterpiece.