Learning to Trust In What Happened to Goodbye
When I first picked up What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen, I knew I was in for a good read as this was the type of book I read as a teenager. Having gone through my parents divorce, I felt I could relate to Mclean and found her character to be very authentic throughout the book.
When I started reading the book, in my head I had imagined an "easy" read... I mean -- this book is for teens right? But as I started, I realized that many of the life lessons that Mclean were lessons that I have learned (or adapted) throughout my adult life.
The need to learn to trust... that is key for Mclean (aka Lizzie, Lizbet, Eliza). It really takes her the whole novel to really feel comfortable in her own skin, and the relationships that she especially develops with Dave and Deb along the way cement that she really should just be who she is. While living in alter egos in the past may have in some way taken away the pain she was suffering, all it did was prolong the need for her to be true to herself to be happy.
The relationship that Mclean has with her parents, to me, is somewhat stereotypical of a teenaged girl in her situation -- she dislikes her mom for leaving her and her dad, she basically runs the house because her dad is working all the time and she often finds it difficult to be herself (which is the premise for the book really) but it doesn’t make it any less believable or real. As with a number of children of single parents, she’s had to grow up, but really hasn’t been given a lot of support in the process. As we near the end of the book, she grows up even more -- but with the support of her parents rather than on her own, and starts to focus on what makes Mclean, rather than what she wants people to think makes Mclean.
In the end, I would definitely recommend What Happened to Goodbye to anyone that needs a light summer read by the pool. I'll definitely look for other books by this author in the future.