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Thursday, November 10, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen


What involves basketball, cooking, a sweetly-told story line, and enough deeply intense morals that could be the main idea of about 20 Hallmark Channel Movies? Sarah Dessen's latest novel.

McLean Sweet has chosen to live with her dad ever since her mom divorced him for a collage basketball coach. Mr. Sweet is a traveling restaurant consultant which means he and McLean move around a lot. With every move, McLean re-invents herself for each new high school. A new name and a new personality, such as peppy cheerleader to drama diva. It's gotten to the point where she's forgotten who she actually is. But in the new town she's just moved to, she's finally making friends and just being herself, whoever that may be. Her neighbor Dave might be the reason for this, he's the most real person she's ever met, and he thinks he knows who the real McLean is, even if she doesn't know herself. She better find out soon though, before she has to move and start all over again.

Such a sweet story. The characters, the setting, the plot...you might as well be watching a good teen chick-flick. Dessen makes McLean's world surround her reader as if they are flipping through a pop-up book rather than a YA novel. It's hard to describe McLean's character, since even she doesn't know who she is. And a reader will grow to love Dave, he's pretty funny and adorable, the exact type of guy you will never find in real life. I wouldn't label this a romance novel- there is so much more to it than the relationship between these characters. Kudos to Dessen for getting to the roots of the meanings of family, friends, and love. And McLean and Dave aren't the only characters worth a second glance. I found myself loving her new friend Deb, who is so perky and positive she will make you smile. She was my favorite, and she's only the beginning of the list of good people you will meet in this story.

I think it was slightly unrealistic how profound some of the thoughts McLean has are. She's a teenager, though she has been through a lot, I suppose. The somewhat distant relationship she has with her parents, her mom in particular, is interesting to watch progress. I found myself getting annoyed with McLean at points, since she can tend to be a bit over-dramatic when it comes to the issues that are thrown her way. But the story goes on this certain way that makes you want to keep reading. The story will stick to you. And of course the conflict was resolved emotionally and cutely, but maybe a little bit too quickly for my tastes.

THE BOTTOM LINE:
Cute, funny, good. Valuable lessons are learned in the most simpleminded and sentimental ways. Go ahead, read it. Like good soup on a winter day, it will make you feel warm and satisfied.
4/5 stars

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