My obsession with Sarah Dessen may or may not be reaching unhealthy levels. I am just constantly in awe of how well this woman writes teenagers, teenager romance and teenager-parent relationships, and her ability to get her reader so engrossed in the characters’ lives that said reader welcomes subway delays just so she can read more.
What Happened To Goodbye is probably my third-favorite Dessen book now, right behind Just Listen and The Truth About Forever. The story is about 17-year-old Mclean and her father moving all around the country for his career as a restaurant consultant. The cause of this arrangement is Mclean’s mom cheating on her dad with a local college basketball coach. Rather than stay with her mom, whom she can barely look at, and her mom’s famous new husband, Mclean chooses to leave town with her dad so she can reinvent herself with different names and hobbies in each new place they live. But all of that changes when they get to Lakeview, naturalmente.
In Lakeview Mclean doesn’t even have time to think of a new persona before she accidentally makes friends with Riley, Heather, Dave, Ellis, Deb and all the people at Luna Blu, the restaurant her dad has taken over for the time being, so she’s stuck with plain old Mclean, whom she has not been in quite some time. Seeing Mclean’s more-than-friendship with Dave, her new friend and strange neighbor, develop before the two of them even knew what was happening is one of Dessen’s specialties, which I thoroughly enjoy. I didn’t even have a clear picture of what either of them looked like, yet I knew they belonged together. (I KNOW IT’S CORNY, ASK ME IF I CARE.)
One thing that got to me, and it had nothing to do with the way Dessen wrote it, was Mclean’s mother. After Mclean chose not to stay with her mother and the new husband, her mother tried to stay involved in her daughter’s life, but she never really apologized or took responsibility for being the cause of the family’s separation. She kept claiming the divorce was between the parents and had nothing to do with Mclean, but, um, your daughter is the one directly affected by that. What makes you think your daughter would be at all interested in spending time with you, your new husband or your new twin babies, who were conceived via CHEATING, when you can’t even respect her enough to have an honest conversation about any of this? (I know she’s a fictional character, but I felt as angry at her as Mclean did.)
So I highly recommend this book to all fellow Dessen fans, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to see what all the fuss is about with this Young Adult section superstar.