by Sarah Dessen
There really isn't anything that can beat reading a new book from Sarah Dessen, many people try to copy her style, but honestly... gah, I just love her. And I was tres excited to read this.
Another town. Another school. Another Mclean. Ever since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her father have been fleeing their unhappy past. And Mclean's become a pro at reinventing herself with each move. But in Lakeview, Mclean finds herself putting down roots and making friends—in part, thanks to Dave, the most real person Mclean's ever met. Dave just may be falling in love with her, but can he see the person she really is? Does Mclean herself know?
My Expectations: Ginormously high. No explanation needed, right?
Delivery: excellence =)
Put-down-ability: stayed till 3am reading it, then finished the next morning, 2/10
There’s this unfair double standard*, wait, more like expectation, that I hold for Sarah Dessen novels. It is no secret that I absolutely adore her novels, I’ve read every single one of them (they all rock). I consider her the queen of feel-good contemporary YA, so I expected nothing less than love for her newest book, What Happened to Goodbye.
Riding on such high expectations, I can easily say that I loved it, albeit it was on a milder side of love. What Happened to Goodbye doesn't stray far from her usual style, the fluid narration of Mclean easily carried the story and kept me flipping pages well into the night. She brings back her signature quirky, well-rounded characters (Deb, ilysfm. Jason, woah! You're back!) to spice things up, then tosses in some sticky situations and a lovely dose of swoon.
While some readers may be tragically upset with the dip in romantic content, I won’t deny it’s still done with refreshing style. Dave may not compare to Wes and Eli but he is a well-worthy Dessen boy, but I thought his relationship with Mclean was well developed and cute to the max. ;-)
The thing that secured this novel in my favourites pile would be the themes that Dessen chose to tackle this time around. Mclean has some very obvious issues with her parents’ messy divorce, and Dessen manages to create an intricate journey for our protagonist to navigate. Once again, she masterfully puppeteers the unbalanced dynamics of family with honesty and grace, I never fail to be surprised by her talent.
Reading this novel was one of the rarer times when I felt emotionally connected at a much deeper level when reading a novel; I found myself relating and identifying with Mclean constantly, despite our different circumstances. Her thoughts and actions were one I found myself familiar with, particularly her feelings toward one of her parents (haha, let's not go there). I think if I wasn't so in tune with the emotions of this book, I would like it less.
What Happened to Goodbye isn’t perfect, there are definitely more than a few shady areas that could have been more polished but I feel as an overall package, I loved it. It spoke to me at a personal level yet it still brought humour and fun, romantic tinglings and angst, engaging writing and a beautiful story. I might advise a different Dessen novel if you haven’t read her books before (GET ON IT) but old fans will love this one.
Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: All YA contemporary fans, Sarah Dessen fans.
Acknowledgements: Gotta love the babysitters ;) 3.5/5
9/10 – because it’s another novel I loved. I can’t compliment Dessen enough; she retains her throne atop YA and delivers another contemporary romance that will undoubtedly appeal to the masses of YA readers. Her signature style is written all over the book, and while some may hate it, I can’t help but smile as I read her latest work. Characters, writing, romance, depth, emotions.. yes to everything.
What Happened to Goodbye is released May 10, 2011 (tomorrow!)
*[edit 5/10/11] - I feel I need to clarify when I say 'double standard'. I hold Dessen books at a HIGHER standard than regular books because I love her work and I expect a lot from it. So no, it is not at a 'lower standard' where I 'go easy on the book' because I love the author. Does that make sense?
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