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What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

What Happened to Goodbye (edition 2013)

by Sarah Dessen (Author)

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1,755896,731 (3.96)23
Following her parents' bitter divorce as she and her father move from town to town, seventeen-year-old Mclean reinvents herself at each school she attends until she is no longer sure she knows who she is or where she belongs.
Title:What Happened to Goodbye
Authors:Sarah Dessen (Author)
Info:Speak (2013), Edition: 1st Printing, 432 pages
Collections:Young Adult, Your library

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What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen


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I read this for Romance Book Bingo 2017: Guy/Girl Next Door square.

Though I really did enjoy 2 out of the 3 Dessen books I reviewed yesterday, this one fell very short. It has classic Dessen moments (or what I consider classic). However, the flow of this book was pretty bad. It took me a while to get through it, and I am not going to lie, I started skimming a bit last night because I was seriously bored the whole time. I think the main issue was that I was not engaged with Mclean's love interest (Dave) at all. He was just odd and lacking in so many ways. I actually did like Mclean's father a lot, but her mother was problematic for me through the whole book. I feel like there was a side plot or something that should have been included to explain her perspective more. But honestly, she acted childish throughout and I ended up disliking her until pretty much the end. The secondary characters unfortunately really don't shine at all in this one, and in her other books "Saint Anything" and "The Truth About Forever" I found the the secondary characters to be very developed.

The main character is Mclean. She is starting her senior year and dealing with being the new girl in town again. We quickly find out that Mclean lives with her father, whose job as a consultant for a huge restaurant corporation means that he is constantly moving around in order to fix or recommend closure for some restaurants. Mclean and her father have come to Lakeview, and she hopes they will stay long enough for her to enjoy her senior year. The biggest pain in Mclean's life though, is that she feels lost and doesn't know who she is anymore after her parents divorce. And we readers find out that this was a highly contentious divorce due to the fact that Mclean's mother cheated on her father (with a man that her and her father saw as a hero) and quickly got pregnant. I don't really know what to say about Mclean though. She definitely gets food and her and her father have a close relationship. But I never felt like I got what made her tick really. She's obviously still upset by her mother tearing their family apart. And we know that Mclean chose and fought to stay with her father though her mother is angry about that. They have a blow up fight about halfway through the book, though Mclean is forced to capitulate to her mother or risk dealing with another court case to decide custody.

Secondary characters just felt too one dimensional for me to get an opinion on. Mclean's dad at times seemed super wonderful, and then he would turn and be uncompromising. I don't know if that was Dessen's way of trying to show a bit of maybe what caused Mclean's mother to cheat or not. Since the character of Mclean didn't seem to mind I just didn't know how I was supposed to feel as a reader.

Mclean's mother was terrible. I really hate to read about cheating in romance novels anyway, but the woman acting like a spoiled brat through the whole book with her 180 in the end didn't feel believable at all. You get that Mclean feels distant from her mother because it feels like she has created a whole new life and she wants her daughter there as well. But, she also doesn't want to own what she did. And there was some sub-text there that Mclean's mother and stepfather had some weirdness going on. Since Dessen doesn't revisit characters in her books that I know of right now, this just ended up making the reading feel more muddled. I honestly didn't get that Mclean's mother loved her, she just wanted her in her new life and wanted things to be like they were. Obviously that can't happen, hey you cheat, people tend to have feelings about it.

And since the situation with the cheating and subsequent divorce was so messy, you think that Mclean's mom would have some shame about it, but not at all. Eh. I don't know what to say, you don't want to be totally hard and not forgive, but I also would have dug a grave and put my husband in it (alive) if I found out that he cheated on me and was all laters baby I have an amazing new life.

Yeah, I hate this phrase so much now.

Note: I am not married, do not be concerned for this mythical husband. I repeat, I am not married.

Other characters like Opal and Dave just read like cliches to me the whole way through. I honestly didn't even get why Mclean was even talking to Dave at all or bringing him with her when she goes to watch a basketball game with her mother (something that the family used to love to do together) since he was honestly just the boy that lived next door to her and her dad.

Usually Dessen's books have a more meaty plot to me. This one just flailed a bit too much for me. I also think Dessen rushed things a bit in the beginning of the book and then slowed down way too much. The flow was all over the place and the time periods kept jumping back and forth too much.

By the time we get to the ending, I had a sense of whiplash and we had some hastily thrown together information regarding where everyone was now (and happily I might add) that once again didn't feel realistic. Everything just didn't fit. And since I thought wet noodles are more romantic than Dave and Mclean were supposed to be, her whole well maybe one day I will just follow him around thing just gave me a hard pause. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
This review is also featured on Behind the Pages: What Happened to Goodbye

Divorce is never easy. When the divorce centers around a high-profile affair, it's even worse. McLean lives with her father, traveling from town to town as he fixes restaurants for his consulting firm. Each new town is a chance to remake herself and figure out who she wants to be. And another chance to avoid her mother. But when she ends up in Lakeview, everything starts to change. McLean starts to wonder if she even knows who she is anymore.

What Happened to Goodbye takes you through a teen’s perspective of divorce. It shows the struggles kids go through trying to balance between two homes and the resentment that can grow for one or the other parent. It also delves into the misconceptions that can arise when people fail to communicate or fail to listen to one another.

McLean will go through a range of emotions as she tries to come to terms with her parents’ divorce. At first, the constant moves seem perfect. It’s like a new adventure every time she starts a new school where she can play whatever role she chooses. But McLean slowly loses her identity. Not only does she not have a place to call home, but the long-known routines are gone as well. As she thinks back to the times when her family was whole, she starts to realize how much she misses it all. You can only hide from the truth for so long.

This an even-paced book, taking the reader through McLean’s growing understanding of her new family dynamic. There isn’t a lot of tension and the plot is straight forward. If you’re looking for a simple young adult read, then this is your book. I also think it would be a great book to offer children whose parents are divorced. And yes, it is age appropriate for young teens. ( )
  Letora | Apr 17, 2020 |
A longtime comfort read of mine. Growing up feeling displaced after my parents separated and my mother moved during my highschool years, I really connected with this book. The pages of my copy are now worn, and marked for my favorite passages. 10/10 will always reread. ( )
  Ecoh | Mar 22, 2020 |
I'll never get tired of the way Sarah Dessen writes these stories...people may claim that the characters are formulaic and all the plots are the same, but I see a different story and lesson in the lives of each of her girls.

Mclean is no exception...she is pulled from town to town, following her restaurant renovating father after his messy divorce from Mclean's mom. In each new place, she throws up a mask over herself, knowing the next move in only weeks away. What good would it do to show anyone the real Mclean, when she's not even sure who that is?

But from the beginning, Lakeview is different. From the failing but endearing restaurant Luna Blu to the basketball hoop in the driveway and the strange boy on the porch, the town promises to interrupt the choppy rhythm of Mclean's life, and maybe tease out the real girl in the process.

One thing is consistent about these novels...they always include a thoroughly enjoyable cast of characters. Some might even be familiar from previous books, but others are wonderfully new. The main boy this time is Dave, who may carry streaks of previous Dessen love interests but in the end is a great guy with an appeal all his own.

True, the story may have been slower paced than others, but I really could connect to a few of the themes about divorce, independence, and finding and seizing those things in life that are 'real.' And as usual there are some really beautiful sentiments expressed, those ones that stay with you after the book's over. I hope Sarah Dessen never stops writing; we always need touchingly well-done, coming-of-age romances like these. ( )
  booksong | Mar 18, 2020 |
Go to Bridget Blogs Books for my thoughts on this book. ( )
  RamblingBookNerd | Jun 5, 2019 |
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Break away from/
what you've known/
You are not alone/
We can build/
a brand new home/
You are not alone
--Ben Lee, "Families Cheating at Board Games"
For Gretchen Alva, with love and admiration
First words
The table was sticky, there was a cloudy smudge on my water glass, and we'd been seated for ten minutes with no sign of a waitress.
Everybody is something--Deb
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Another town. Another school. Another McLean. Ever since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her father have been fleeing their unhappy past. And McLean's become a pro at reinventing herself with each move. But in Lakeview, McLean finds herself putting down roots and making friends—in part, thanks to Dave, the most real person McLean's ever met. Dave just may be falling in love with her, but can he see the person she really is? Does McLean herself know?
Haiku summary
After Dad's divorce
McLean moves around with him
Searching for herself.

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