What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

11:15 AM

Title: What Happened to Goodbye
Author: Sarah Dessen
Release Date: May 10, 2011 (hardcover)
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Pages: 402
Source: Bought

Overall: 4 Stars

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

My Thoughts:
Opening the pages of What Happened to Goodbye was like finding myself reacquainted with an old friend! It has been such a long wait for Sarah Dessen's latest novel, so the anticipation may have been high. Once again, she tells the story of a teenage girl trying to figure out her own identity as she still longs for her old life while trying to deal with her less than perfect new one.

I was really quick to become sympathetic for Mclean. In the past few years, she has moved constantly with her father, helping to support him as the pair try to outrun a past that always threatens to catch up with them. Her relationship with her mother has been strained ever since her parents divorced, and Mclean still can't find it within herself to forgive her Mom after her betrayal that tore their family apart in a very public way. Since then, Mclean has taken on a new persona during each move, trying to discovery who she really is... only she's not really sure about anything anymore. 

Dave was cute and sweet, but he didn't exactly leave me swooning on the spot. It was more fun for me to see Mclean and Dave build up their friendship and influence one another in positive ways. Mclean's other new friends, while perhaps less developed, added a touch more realism and helped to round out the story more.

Sarah Dessen's novels always have a distinct touch to them and each time I read a novel by her, I fall in love with her beautiful writing all over again. There's a certain soothing quality to them that I can never quite put my finger on. I didn't think What Happened to Goodbye really offered anything new though because you can still see the similarities, or at least common elements, that are also used in her previous novels... but I think I can accept that. It's the execution of the plot that draws me in and Sarah Dessen has always done a wonderful job in accomplishing that.

What Happened to Goodbye may not be a favourite of mine by Sarah Dessen, but I still really enjoyed the story. Except for an appearance of a couple characters from Along for the Ride, nothing really came as a surprise in the novel but I don't think I would have expected anything less! In a contemporary novel filled with friendship, family, romance and learning life lessons, Sarah Dessen has offered a novel that will be sure to satisfy her fans.

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  1. Yah, I totally agree with you. I'm basically the biggest Sarah Dessen fangirl ever, but I wasn't totally impressed with this one. It's still a 4, definitely, but I was a teensy bit disappointed. It was still definitely worth a read, though. I loved certain aspects of it and, you're right, there is such a soothing quality to her writing. I sort of felt like I was coming home, or something equally cheesy like that. ;)

  2. I haven't read many of her books. I've read Lock and Key, The Truth about forever and Just Listen. Truth was my favorite. I'd like to read more though. Which are your favorites of hers?

  3. Ashley- *nods* Exactly!

    Kelley- I've read those three too! I also liked This Lullaby and Along for the Ride, if you're still looking for more Dessen recommendations. If you want something darker, definitely go with Dreamland... it was the first Dessen novel I ever read and left me searching for more of her novels!

  4. This sounds so good. I have a few Dessen novels in my huge TBR pile, but maybe I should start with this one? My last name is McLean - maybe it's a sign. ;)

  5. I hadn't thought about it but you're right, Sarah Dessen's writing is kind of soothing.

    I think I'm going to approach WHTG with a lower expectation and see what happens.

    thanks for the honest review

  6. I love Sarah Dessen and I can't wait to read What Happened to Goodbye. I know exactly what you mean about her books having a certain soothing quality - I always feel good them, it's like coming home again. :-)

  7. Chrystal- Yes, read it! It's definitely a sign!! :)

    Alex- I'm sure you'll really like it if you've enjoyed her past novels. I was just looking for something a bit more new and memorable after a long wait...

    SweetMarie83- I'm so glad you feel the same way!

  8. Some people say this book is horrible because its predictable and a bit cheesy, but personally, i like it because its perfect for one of those days where you just need to read a good pick-me-up. Its easy, simple, and great.