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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 story was actually very interesting. I was intrigued by the idea of a girl who changed names every time she moved towns, and I knew plenty about Sarah Dessen's writing, so I was excited to check it out. I have to say that What Happened to Goodbye didn't really fulfil all of my expectations.
The plot was, for lack of a better word, 'meh'. I mean, the whole story moved at a snail's pace and nothing really happened. If you ask me, it seems to be more of a character study than anything else, and if you read it as a character study, it's brilliant. The characters are well fleshed-out, every single one of them, and we are given backstories and interesting insider views into their lives. It's so hard to find a YA author who gives this much attention to all of their characters, regardless of main or secondary.
Sarah Dessen obviously has a great understanding of human relationships (or more so than the average YA author, as it seems). She writes about thoroughly realistic scenarios--Mclean's way of coping as she moves from town to town and deals with her troubled relationships with her parents seems very realistic. I was also quite pleased with the ending, although I won't ruin it for you here.
I also didn't really see the sparks between Mclean and Dave. For me, it didn't seem to play a huge part in the story. I don't know why, but there just didn't seem to be a lot of romantic moments/romantic tension, and that's what I look for in a fictional relationship.
I am a huge fan of food, so I was really enjoyed all of the kitchen dilemmas, especially the pickle-and-rosemary-bread-roll-arguments. It was really cute and quirky and a great addition to the novel. I also loved Opal, and how she formed a good relationship with Mclean's dad over time.
Overview: There was obviously lots of stuff that I liked about this book, but it was so underwhelming there was virtually no plot, and the book dragged on for a long time. (I almost gave up a few times--it took me more than three days to read this.) Read it as a character study, read it for the kitchen disasters, read it for the writing, but please don't read this for the plot. By all means, give it a try and borrow it from the library, but don't expect anything great--it's the sort of thing you skim through, cast aside, and forget about it in the haze of great YA reads. Three stars. I look forward to reading more of Dessen's books for the writing and characters, but this book didn't make it for me.