What Happened to Goodbye Wasn't For Me

BlogHer Review

There are books you read to challenge and engage your mind. Books that connect you to charismatic people and a specific world; books that stir thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen is not one of those books.

Now don’t get me wrong -- I didn’t dislike reading it, but I didn’t miss it when I put it down. What Happened to Goodbye is a YA novel about Mclean, a high school senior with divorced parents and a need to hide her true self. After her mother’s affair goes public, Mclean and her father take off, following the restaurant business. The book opens with them settling in a small town, and follows Mclean’s botched attempts to hide herself from people who want to get to know her, culminating in a dramatic exchange with her mother. Spoiler -- she ends up with friends.

The flaw in this book is not that the protagonist is young, but that in writing a character that tries to hide her true self, Sarah Dessen has only succeeded in alienating the reader from Mclean. Her problems seem trite, and although she attends a few parties and drinks a beer, there is an obvious lack of urgency and plain ole drama. The surrounding characters lack specifics, and the few hints of backstory are not enough to sustain interest.

Picking up this novel is like flicking on the TV and watching Say Yes to the Dress -- entertaining while you’re watching, but forgotten immediately. Which in some ways, makes it the perfect summer read -- just not for me.

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