Book Review: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Released: May 10th 2011
Review Source: Viking Juvenile

Who is the real McLean?

Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Combining Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

This Summer of Dessen is probably one of the greatest things that have happened this summer so far, because I Shannon Haile has been fully exposed to the greatest of Sarah Dessen, FINALLY. Unfortunately I was a late book worm bloomer and when events and promo like this are offered I jump for the opportunity and say ABOSLUTLEY, because I have a lot of catching up to do and from what I hear, Sarah Dessen is the queen of YA.

So this week I read What Happened to Goodbye, a book written for teens published in 2011 and something I completely relate to today, being 25 years old. Things that teens go through and hurt over are the same things adults hurt over as well. When we first meet McLean she’s moving into a new house, starting a new school, and a new a life, but this isn’t something that’s new to her. McLean and her father move around a lot, her father is in the restaurant business, helping restore crumbling restaurants, once the business is back and running or it’s time to call it a lost cause and move onto the next, they start over somewhere new. But this is exactly was McLean likes, a fresh start, a new beginning, and a new self. That’s why in every new town she uses a different name, reinvents herself, never getting attached, and never having to be reminded of her past. McLean holds a lot of resentment towards her mother after her mother cheated on her father with a basketball coach.

I was completely consumed with this story within pages, I may not know exactly what McLean was going through but I knew the feeling of not really knowing the one you thought you knew the best. Having your world tilt on an axis is jarring and it’s hard to right yourself, to see through the fog. Throughout this story McLean and her relationship with her mother weathered a true storm and through time McLean started seeing more, and maybe not completely understanding everything understanding that there is two sides of every story. But my favorite part of Dessen’s books so far is the self-discovery, the family bonds, and friendships built, there is romance and cutesy times, but they take a back seat to the real story, and that I love. I love watching characters grow, make mistakes and learn from them, and love so undeniably to everyone in their life.

PS. Any suggestions on what Sarah Dessen book to read next are fully appreciated!


  1. I've never read any Sarah Dessen book myself and reading your thoughts made me want to try one. I like that Dessen's books focus more on things like self-discovery, family, and other things than romance. I really need to try reading one of her book!! Great review :)

    czai @ the Blacksheep Project

  2. I read and liked a Sarah Dessen book with a girl who is a model? Can't remember what the title was... the girl's name was like Anna-something. Based on your review though, check out Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer! Similiar theme and setting, but I think it goes in a different direction, and that was a truly beautiful read for me.

    Great review!
    Esty @ Boarding with Books


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