Publisher: Penguin Young Readers
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 becomes 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?
Honestly, I don't read contemporary teen books. But with the likes of Susane Colasanti, Sarah Dessen is one of those teen authors that is the exception. She is a brilliant writer when it comes down to teen drama, an interesting story, and of course, sweet teen romance. Each one of her novels keeps getting better and better, and I guess that's because she is becoming a better writer as well with each book release. And while Along for the Ride - the book published before this lovely baby - still remains to be my favourite Dessen novel, however WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE has clearly made it to the top of my favourite contemporary teen novels out there in the world!
In the latest piece of WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE, it tells the story of Mclean (I mean what kind of name is that because it reminds me of a burger) who moves around a lot with her dad since her parents had a nasty-ish divorce. Town to town. Changing her identity. She doesn't get close to anyone. Doesn't want to make friends. Doesn't want to get emotionally attached. It's been a lonely life for Mclean. She's been Eliza, Lizbeth, and Beth until one day, when she moves to the quirky Lakeview, and now she's just known as Mclean. For once in her life, she's being introduced as herself - even though she doesn't know it yet - but she's letting people know who she is and that's something she needs to get use to.
But like in many Dessen novels, there is romance.
With Mclean forming many friendships with the locals, she also starts to form an unexpected romance for the boy next door. Who doesn't love that cliche boy-next-door thing? I love it. And just when romance starts to bloom around the corner, Mclean realizes her biggest mistake. She's getting attched. To the town. To the boy. To her friends. To her life. But the more she explores this unknown territory, she also understands that she's not running away from love . . . she's running away from her true self. One person she has missed for quite some time. And it's up to her to make things right and BE Mclean again!
I think what I love most about Sarah Dessen is that she has this amazing ability to write characters and stories so real that they each have a personalized feel to it - at least containing one element of the book that readers can relate to. Teenagers are constantly changing themselves to somehow fit in more, but the thing we all forget about is that we need to be ourselves and that we shouldn't change . . . because what is the point of that? We are different and in all reality, no one really knows who they are. Not really. Not yet. We need to grow up more and experience real life before we can see ourselves! I would have to say Sarah Dessen tackles this identity issue in WHAT HAPPENS TO GOODBYE and I loved every moment of it!