What Happened to Goodbye
By Sarah Dessen
Viking Childrens Books, 2011. 402 pgs. Teen Fiction
Since her parents' divorce, Mclean Sweet has followed her father around on his job as a restaurant consultant. That means she's lived in four towns in two years--and in each place, she has created a new identify for herself, complete with a new name (she's been Beth, Eliza, and Lizbet) and new hobbies and interests, molding her personality into whatever works best for her current location. She doesn't get attached, and she doesn't say goodbye. However, in the fourth town, before she has a chance to role out her new persona (Liz), she's forced back into being Mclean--except she doesn't really know what that means anymore. As she's trying to deal with her family troubles--she's basically avoided her mother ever since the divorce--and making new friends, she has to figure out how to be herself again.
I always enjoy Sarah Dessen's books and this one is no exception (although I will say it's not my favorite of hers). There's a little bit of romance (although some readers might wish there was a little more, since it doesn't garner many pages of coverage), and a lot of realistically-developed family and identity issues. Dessen is great at portraying deep characters and getting inside the head of teen girls. I thought the ending wrapped up a little too quickly, but overall, another teen book with some substance to recommend to teens and adults alike.
On a side note, one thing that REALLY irritated me about this book is the basketball angle--Mclean and her father used to be big into basketball, but then her mother ran off with their favorite college team's coach and now they hate the support. Still, it was supposed to have been a big part of their lives...and yet, Mclean repeatedly refers to the "basketball goal". Um, it's a HOOP. That's why it's called shooting hoops, not shooting goals. I don't know, maybe it's a regional thing?? But honestly, I've been around basketball my whole life, and no one I know calls it a goal. So for me, it just made the book not ring quite so true. Granted, that's a little detail, but it irked me...and I wonder now how much little details can detract from a book. Does something so small have so much power on the reader's experience?
Anyway, 4 stars, and a pretty clean read. There's some mention of underage drinking and maybe there's some swearing but I don't even remember for sure (which means if it's there, it's pretty mild).