What Happened To Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

10799863Published: May 10th, 2010

by: Speak/Viking Children’s

Genres: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Format: ebook

Source: Library

My Rating: 3.5 Stars 3-5-stars (1)

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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

What Happened To Goodbye isn’t what I expected. And while I enjoyed the book as a whole, I can’t say that I actually love it. I wanted to love it. That still hasn’t stopped me from wanting more Dessen, though. I know there will be some that I will just not like at all, so I’m just gonna keep reading and hope for the best. The writing and setting are great; no argument there. I just feel like this one didn’t give me all the feels that I wanted. 

Mclean has been on the move with her dad since her parents very public divorce. Her mom up and left him for the new basketball coach. A coach that happens to land a job at both her parents alma mater. What’s even more humiliating is the fact that Mclean’s mom was already pregnant by the time it became apparent that anything was going on. So, of course, Mclean is #TeamDad. He gets custody of her, and she visits her mom on occasions. Her dad is a traveling restaurant consultant, that goes from city to city, so Mclean hasn’t really stayed in place for more than six months at a time, since the divorce. And in her need to not make friends, she reinvents herself at each school she attends. Except this last place, Lakeview. Here, she actually becomes friends with an interesting set of characters. 

So my first impression of Mclean was that she seems to be having some sort of identity crisis. I mean, this girl creates new alter egos wherever she goes. But then the flashbacks to happier times lets me see how really messed up she is about the divorce. And boy does she have it out for her mother. She blames her for how her life is now. Her mother is living it up with the hotshot coach and her new kids, twins. To not make mom sound like an evil person, she does try to stay in touch with Mclean and spend time with her. Mclean just brushes her off time and time again. I kind of felt bad for the woman. Mclean also has new friends that she hangs out with, but the most interesting would have to be Dave and Deb. Dave is the smart guy who wanted to ditch his private school for the real world. He wants to enjoy normal high school experiences. Deb is THE most outgoing person. She is truly nice but everyone in the school ignores her and talks about her behind her back. Mclean’s arrival changes everything. She’s the one who invites Deb to sit with the crew at lunch. And guess what? There’s more to Deb than what they thought. I loved how the story flowed when they were all together.

What I didn’t like was how Mclean treated her mom. If she had talked it out with both her parents, instead of hiding her pain of the divorce, she probably would have given her mom a fair chance. It took Dave to push some wisdom her way; which she didn’t want to hear because of her anger. I also think that her dad should have insisted she stay with her mom from the get go. No way would I like my daughter moving from place to place, during her senior year in high school – or ever. Mclean had no stability. And she was so freaking lost, no matter what name she used. Also, this story felt more like her dad’s. What, with his restaurant drama and woman problems. I felt so bad for poor Opal at one point.

This is not a bad book, I just didn’t love it as much as I hoped I would. I’m sure Dessen fans have already read this, but I think if you enjoy realistic YA and social issue themes, this book would be a perfect fit. I’m glad that I read it, but it won’t be one that I’ll revisit.


Also by this author: The Truth About Forever | The Moon and More | Keeping the Moon | Along for the Ride

23 thoughts on “What Happened To Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

  1. Sometimes communication would solve everything in these novels wouldn’t they? I have this one on my list to read, because I have loved some of Dessen’s latest books, but it definitely sounds like there were a few problems you had with it. Lovely review!


    • Communication is the key. I understand teens (adults too) hold things in, but for once I’d like to read something that has an open line of communication between parents and teens. Or, at the very least, an adult family member. It’s nerve wracking reading about these tough situations.


  2. I’ve really been in the mood for a Dessen book but maybe it won’t be this one. I’m thinking one of her more summery feeling books anyway. But I think I might get a little frustrated with this character. One day I’m sure I’ll read it though.


  3. The Dessen tour continues, yay! I’m so intrigued by her after reading all of your reviews. What book do you think I should start with? Sorry that you didn’t love this but sounds like it did have its moments, great review!!


  4. It seems like this person was more affected by the divorce than she wanted to believe and all. It must have been difficult to see how she decided to treat her mother and blame her for absolutely everything. I don’t think I would really want to read this one though – seeing as I have a hard enough time with these books I’m going for the top ones to try 😀


  5. I think this might be a Dessen novel that I haven’t read. I can see that this one probably wouldn’t be for me. It does look like lots of the MC’s issues could have been solved with a conversation and being open.
    At least you didn’t hate it, so there’s that! 🙂
    Lovely review!


  6. I’m sorry it wasn’t too good!
    I read three books by this author and loved them all so I’d like to give this one a try and to read her other books.
    I still have to read Just Listen, and I know many ppl say that one is her best work…


  7. I think I would be attracted to it as I like to read real life issue stories in my contemporary YA, but I would be disappointed over the anger and mistakes if it carried on too long.
    I’m enjoying your parade of Dessen books since I’ve always been curious about them. 🙂


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