The Question of Identity in What Happened to Goodbye
I love Sarah Dessen. Her novels are so well written. As an adult reader, I wish I had had books like Sarah Dessen's when I was a part of the target age demographic. Being from a divorced family, I can completely relate to Mclean. Her parents' divorce was tumultuous, and she is just coming through to the other side of that storm when this novel begins.
Like most Sarah Dessen novels, there is the surface story in What Happened to Goodbye and then the deeper story or question. In each place that Mclean moves with her father, she takes on a new identity. She decides which version of herself she wants to be in that particular location. When Mclean lands in Lakeview, she is just beginning to decide which persona she will adapt for this town, when she is accidentally forced into being herself. Dessen is really raising a bigger question about identity with this aspect of the novel. How does one define oneself? What makes us who we are? Mclean struggles with the question of identity throughout the novel. Who is Mclean in the wake of her parents' divorce?
And then there's a boy. Dave. I really enjoyed his character and the effect he has on Mclean. He is not your average boyfriend material. He's super sweet, but kind of quirky. He's also very unassuming and accepting. His relationship with Mclean allows Mclean to see that whoever she is, Dave likes it, likes her, and so will other people.
I very much enjoyed this book. I highly recommend Sarah Dessen to everyone who can read.