What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Published May 10, 2011
Sarah Dessen is an author I had always adored and am never disappointed when I read her books. Her books have always followed a very similar pattern: normal, everyday girl with parental issues and then a good-boy love interest with normal, everyday, relatable problems. And despite the fact that her books are, in a way, predictable, they never fail to give you that good feeling once you finish reading her books. What Happened To Goodbye did not disappoint in this manner. Once I finished the book, I had that good feeling; however, a small part of me felt that this book was a little lacking compared to her other previous books I had read in the past. For her past books, I have always given 5 stars with one 4 star; but for this one, I was surprised that I rated it a 3 which is highly unusual. I’m not entirely sure what it was that felt lacking but it just didn’t seem to draw me in or captivate me as much as her previous works have done.
McLean is your typical average girl who gets uprooted when her parents get divorced after her mom cheated on her father. She spent the last two years donning on different personalities and names as she moved from place to place with her father’s consulting job. For me, this kind of screamed schizophrenic. She basically had different personalities for each new place and made up an entirely different name, hobbies, et cetera – and her father knew about this but didn’t say anything. How is that not something that basically was a neon colored signal that something was not right – that maybe the divorce affected McLean more than she let on? Her parents seemed not to really care about what she did with her father being extremely busy running restaurants on the verge of collapse and her mother constantly trying to reconnect with McLean despite her betrayal and her new family and ultimately being selfish because she just wanted things the way they were even though things can never go back to the way things were after everything that had happened.
With problems at home, she is more of a loner, not that she did not have friends, but she kept everyone a distance away. She never tried to get close to anyone because she knew there was a deadline in sight and when she did start a relationship with a guy, she always made sure her departure was imminent so she was always safe from getting her feelings hurt. I’m not sure how I feel about McLean exactly – I mean, she was certainly relatable and I obviously understand where she was coming from but I don’t know, she’s not a character I particularly admire and perhaps that is why this book felt somewhat lacking.
Dave, the love interest, was a good guy – smart, caring and nice. To me though, he came off as boring. I didn’t really understand what McLean was attracted to nor did I understand why he was attracted to McLean. It always seemed as if there somewhat awkward relationship between the two and their relationship never really seemed to take off. Honestly, it seemed as if their relationship was stuck in the middle-ground – never going up or down.
The most surprising character of all was Deb. She was the awkward one in the beginning – the one who tried too hard and everyone knew about it but once McLean decided to reach out and befriend her, Deb’s character really shown through. She was interesting and always surprised me with her past – and just when I thought I understood her, she would say or do something that would completely throw me off. I loved how she changed from a relatively docile girl to someone with strong organization and great leadership skills. I feel somewhat bad saying this but I was far more interested in Deb than McLean.
Overall, this was a decent book – definitely not my favorite from Sarah Dessen but nonetheless, I still enjoyed it. I’m hoping that her more recent books, Saint Anything and The Moon and More will prove to somewhere closer along the lines of her past books that I had adored.