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. Read more...
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.
Combing Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, "What Happened to Goodbye" is irresistible reading.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-02-21
- Reviewer: Staff
Dessen's 10th novel is another smoothly written journey of self-discovery. Mclean Sweet, named for "the all-time winningest basketball coach of Defriese University," has moved four times in two years, following her father's job as a restaurant consultant. Each time she moves she reinvents herself, not so much to try on a new identity but to rid herself of the original one—only daughter of a couple whose divorce was an awful, public scandal. It becomes clear that although Defriese basketball was her father's obsession, Mclean's idol was her mother, and Mclean's lasting anger adds an emotional punch to a long narrative that doesn't otherwise have much of an arc. It will delight Dessen's passionate fans that Mclean and her father have landed in Lakeview (capital of Dessenland) and that the action ricochets between there and familiar (fictional) beach towns. As Mclean figures out how to make peace with her mother, she relies on friends made at both school and at the restaurant her father is trying to save. Dessen delivers another cast of authentic, likable characters, struggling to make sense of the world. Ages 12–up. (May)
An unexpected home
McLean’s old life was normal, back before her mother left her father for another man. But after their sticky divorce, her dad, eager to get away, took a Gordon Ramsay-style job reorganizing failing restaurants that necessitated a long-distance move every few months. Against her mother’s wishes, McLean went with him. In three years she’s gone to four high schools in four suburbs, and each time she’s used a new name and adopted a different personality to go with it. But now they’ve landed in Lakeview, and thanks to the charming characters at the restaurant and the smart, quirky boy next door, this temporary home feels like a real one.
Readers will root for the likable McLean as she meets people and softens her defenses. As a narrator she’s authoritative and self-aware, sounding almost like a movie voice-over—not surprising, maybe, since Dessen’s first two books were made into the movie How to Deal. A nice subplot that has McLean and her friends building a model of their town gives her the opportunity to make poetic insights about community, family and home. Dessen’s confident style makes What Happened to Goodbye a smooth and entertaining read.