What Happened to Goodbye: The Challenge of Starting Over
I must say, I was first drawn to reading and reviewing Sarah Dessen's What Happened to Goodbye because it was labeled as teen lit. I often times find teen characters to show a new interesting perspective as well as take me back down memory lane.
Mclean -- the main character -- is a senior in high school, living with her father. Up until around age 16, she has a comfortable life as the only child of restaurant-owning parents -- then her mother has an extra-marital affair and leaves the family for the current coach of Defriese University’s basketball team. This leaves Mclean’s relationship with her mother shaky and, more so, it leaves Mclean and her father in the predicament of being uprooted and starting over.
Mclean’s father takes on a restaurant consulting job which leaves them constantly relocating and never fully setting roots down. Mclean copes with her current situation by repeatedly starting over as a new girl with a new name (some variation of her middle name, Elizabeth) and a new set of interests, never getting too attached to anyone or anything, knowing the end of the current circumstance was invariably in sight. Although I did find this concept to be a little bit of a stretch, I do think there was some level of understanding for it because the main character was a teen; perhaps the identity confusion of one’s teen years could allow for something like this. We readers join Mclean right as she starts over in a town called Lakeview with her father hired on to a restaurant called Luna Blu.
The part of the book I felt one could best relate to was how we are all affected by our first big heartbreak (not necessarily of the romantic variety). I think everyone can understand and relate to Mclean’s loss of the comfortable, happy life she once knew and her struggling with how to move on from it. Sometimes, after being hurt, the easiest way to protect oneself is by not letting anyone or anything become close enough or a big enough part of one’s life again -- it was very easy for me, or anyone of any age, to relate to this part of her character.
All in all, I liked the book and I would recommend it as a good quick read for any female -- teen or not. I have never read a Sarah Dessen novel before, so I cannot compare this to some of her other works as some of my fellow reviewers probably will, but after having read this book, I am feeling very open to trying another one of her pieces.