Mclean Elizabeth Sweet is an average high school senior. Her parents are divorced, she lives with her dad and she moves a lot due to his job. Oh and every time she moves she reinvents herself. In one town she is Beth, another Lizbet, another Eliza. Each of these girls has a different place in school, a different style, sometimes a different hair color. That changes when dad’s job lands them back in her home state of North Carolina. Mclean is all set to become Liz, when a chance run-in causes her to use her real name.
To make matter worse, she is perilously closer to where her mother lives than she has been in nearly two years and that makes mom put the reconnection plans into high gear. Now Mclean is stuck being called Mclean, trying to be herself, whoever that is, dealing with her mother and taking a chance on really connecting with the people in the town around her. The question becomes can she really do it, after years of hating her mother, being prepared to cut and run at a moment’s notice, and insulating herself from the people around her.
I really enjoyed What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen. Mclean is completely three dimensional. Her habits, likes, fears, and anxieties leap off the page. The story takes the idea of reinventing oneself to an interesting level that few people, outside of conmen and those in witness protection consider. The supporting characters are great as well. I loved Deb with her quirky organization skills, Riley with her fierce devotion to friends. Of course, there is a guy. Dave is the perfectly loveable geek and I really appreciate how Dessen writes the relationship between him and Mclean. It’s sweet and endearing, but still leaves you with that sense of anticipation, wondering what, if anything will happen next.
As always, there is an Easter egg in the book for Dessen fans, the kind where there is a hint or an appearance of a character from a previous novel and you will never guess who! If you are a Dessen fan already, you are going to love What Happened to Goodbye. If you have never read her work, do yourself a favor and go pick up this novel or any of her others and be prepared for an enjoyable, faceted read.
- Publisher: Viking Juvenile
- Date of Publication: May 10, 2011