Recollections: Reviews by a Book Lover

What Happened to Goodbye Review

Picture of the books I’ve read

The first book by Sarah Dessen I read was the Truth about Forever which I received as a birthday present.    Since then I have read four other books by Dessen.  The most recent book being What Happened to Goodbye.  As the number of her books I’ve read indicates (four of which I own) I am a fan of Dessen’s work.


What’s it about:

In What Happened to Goodbye, our main character, Mclean, decided to live with her dad following her parents’ divorce.  It is apparent that Mclean blames her mom for breaking up their family, and therefore their relationship is strained.  Mclean and her father travel around the country because her father works for a company which flips restaurants.  In each new town Mclean reinvents herself.  She changes her name and matches her personality to what she feels the girl with that name is like.  However, when they move to Lakeview things change.  Mclean starts using her name, and with that she has to start to figure out who exactly Mclean is again.


Mclean is upset over her parents’ divorce, understandably.  With every move she reinvents herself (who of us doesn’t want that option from time to time? To start over fresh?).  Mclean gave up one of the things that defined her (her love for Defriese basketball) when her mother remarried the coach of the team.  Moving around gives Mclean the option of leaving the girl with the messy divorced parents behind, but everything catches up with her once she moves to Lakeview.  Mclean starts making connections and friends.  What happens when her friends realize Mclean’s tendency to reinvent herself?  What happens when the restaurant is self-sufficient and it’s time to move again?  What happens when you have friends you don’t want to walk out on without a goodbye?  When you’ve left yourself behind for so long, how do you find who you are?

Yes, there is a love interest in What Happened to Goodbye, but he is a good guy.  That’s one thing about Dessen’s characters I love (as well as others I have talked to about it).  The guys in Dessen’s books are guys worth loving.  You don’t sit there the entire book trying to figure out why the main character is the only one who doesn’t realize the guy is a jerk, because he is actually a good guy!  Yes, there is drama and teen angst.  However, that is the point, it is realistic fiction.  Mclean is going through tough stuff, and it is not easy and it doesn’t clean up easily either.  In the end Mclean is working on things, but everything isn’t tied up in a nice little bow.  It is realistic, life doesn’t clean up easy.

Also, fans of Dessen’s works will love finding the connections in her stories (places, people), which overlap in great & subtle ways.  It’s also a great reminder that even though the book has ended the lives in the story aren’t over.


I recommend also reading The Truth About Forever, Along for the Ride, Lock & Key, and Just Listen.  My favorite so far?  Hmmm…I’d probably have to go with Just Listen.  No real reason comes to mind other than it’s the one I tend to think back on more than the others (although I find I think of her books often, especially when reading a new one).

Want to get to know Sarah Dessen?  Click here for a great interview


Side note:  My picture was edited with PicMonkey


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