Dessen's What Happened to Goodbye Makes Me Happy (and Makes Me Want to Try a Fried Pickle)
Running away from things is certainly something I don’t need to practice. In fact, I’m very good at it as is the seventeen year old Mclean Sweet, the main character in Sarah Dessen's What Happened to Goodbye. She runs away from one identity as Eliza, another as Beth, another as Lizbet, and yet another life begins as Liz. I understand though. Sometimes starting over is much easier than correcting what’s wrong in the first place.
In the end I loved, loved, loved this book. In the past couple of days since I finished it I’ve found myself researching more popular YA fiction and adding them to my To Read list. I’m not sure why I love reading young adult novels but I’ve gotten quite into them (again) in my thirties and I’m discovering that there’s just something about that carefree innocence in having your life all open before you. There’s the strong emotions that are evoked as I remember the feeling of teenage angst that comes when you think everything in the world rides on each little decision you make. Experience tells me that life doesn’t, in fact, revolve around each little decision, but when you’re in high school you sure think it does.
Furthermore, when I got the book I read the book jacket and I thought about how I never moved away when I was a kid and my parents never split up so there’s really not a lot in this story that I would be able to relate to besides the experience of life as a teenager. Somehow I still found myself wrapped up in the story. It was completely relatable. Every adult has once been a teenager and dealt with the complicated relationship struggles that come with the territory.
I also found myself plowing through it in less than two days. (Another reason I love YA books: 400 pages goes by as quick as a wink.) It was easy to read but not so much so that it was patronizing. I wanted to get to the end of the story. I wanted to find out if there would be the happy ending I was hoping for.
Additionally, as a Food TV kinda girl, I was intrigued by the fact that most of the book takes place in a restaurant. Food can make any story come alive and feel more realistic to me. And at each new reference to them I was dying to get my hands on one of Luna Blu’s fried pickles.
I’ll close with this excerpt: one of my favorite scenes described in the book which takes place at the dinner table at one of Mclean’s friend’s houses. Everyone is seated at the dinner table and Mrs. Benson tells Mclean to have seconds of the green beans and rolls.
“And it looks like you need another toll, too. Where’s the butter?” “Right here,” Heather said, picking up the dish and handing it to Mr. Benson, who passed it to Dave. As the conversation rose up again, I watched both it and the bread basket move down the table. Steadily, they went from hand to hand, person to person, like links on a chain, making their way to me.”