Monday, May 9, 2011

BR: What Happened to Goodbye

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.

Summary (goodreads)

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

My Thoughts

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?

source: publisher
author website / fansite / twitter / blog / livejournal


  1. First of all, this is the first review of this book that I've read. Okay, I like how you're gushing about it but at the same time keep it real and admit that the book had its flaws.

    I own almost all her books and Sarah Dessen is an "auto buy author" for me, in fact, I think she's the only one. I have to admit that I wasn't a fan of her first books, I don't know, but I think that she has grown as an author while still keeping the same style. Does that make sense?

    I can't wait to meet this new Sarah Dessen boy and see how he's compared to the others. I know that Wes is a favorite, if not the most popular (Sa-woon) but I have a special place for Eli.

    I like the idea of the main character changing her name everytime she moves. And I'm excited to see other Sarah Dessen's characters in this book. It's like getting a mini update as to what her characters have been up to.

    Okay, this comment is way too long. I'm super excited for my copy (which I preordered, of course.) I could probably keep talking all night about her...

    Thank you!

    1. Its good to know I'm not the only one who wasn't a fan of her first books. I own them all and I Agree with everything you've said. I liked Dave. But Wes and Eli are still my two favorite guys.

  2. Mleh, I've only read The Truth About Forever (so I get the Wes reference! *feels smart*) and I feel like a romance + issues isn't really enough to get me invested in a book. Guess for some people it is :) Glad you liked it, Audrey!

  3. Great review! I know exactly how you feel, I just love her style so much I'd read anything by her, and there were lots of lovely cute/romantic bits (although I would have liked more kissing!)

    I love that all her main characters have such odd names too, it took me a while to gel with Mclean think I'd have gone by my middle name too!!

  4. I don't think anyone could hate Dessen.

    Well, with the big issue centering around a messy divorce, I have a feeling I would relate to Mclean a lot too. Even if the romantic elements isn't as pronounced, I like the idea that Mclean's story reaches for a deeper level of relating to the character.

    And okay... since I can't resist talking boys in books. I know Eli, but what book is Wes from?

  5. Your blog is the coolest ever! So fun that I came across your blog!!! YAY!!!

    I'm so excited to see Sarah Dessen next month!!! CANNOT WAIT!!!

  6. mfay2- Oh, I totally agree, all Dessen is a must-read! And I compltely know what you mean, when I read my first book by her, I wasn't really sold, but gradually they grew on me and now they're all amongst my favourites :) Dave doesn't measure up to Wes/Eli, but still.. Dessen creates such wonderful boys ;) I loved your comment, thank you!

    Yahong- ohkay, next time I'll try to make sure my review mentions clearly that there's more to the book than romance and issues.

    Alexa- AGREED =)

    Missie- Mhmm, I had more of a connection than I've had with her other books, and while this will be true for some, it will also just be 'another dessen book' for others. Wes is from The Truth about Forever! He is my #2 boy, Eli is #1 xD

    Jen- thank you for stopping by!! Eep, I am SO jealous you will be seeing her!

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  8. This review makes me sad/worried. I expect to read an 10000 out of 10 stars book tomorrow not 9/10... now im praying i wont be disappointed because i have such expectations, as in the book better be PERFECT or else. *fingers crossed* also, how did you get it early?This review makes me sad/worried. I expect to read an 10000 out of 10 stars book tomorrow not 9/10... now im praying i wont be disappointed because i have such expectations, as in the book better be PERFECT or else. *fingers crossed* also, how did you get it early?

  9. Racquel- Trust me, don't be too worried- it's excellent! If you liked Dessen's other works, you will LOVE this one. I'd love to know what you thought after you read it! I was lucky to get an ARC :)

  10. gosh

    i am envious of your review. you are absolutely brilliant at writing them!

    i loved reading this even though i didn't really like the book (and I am prob the only person who doesn't like it, LOL).

    x Nomes

  11. @audrey I do love all her work but i just loved The Truth About Forever & Just Listen so much & i read them for the first time before Along For the Ride came out so i was beyond ecstatic for it but when i did read it i was kinda disappointed bcus it wasn't as good as TTAF & JL. So im scared I set high standards once again only to get disappointed. Sure, I'm going to try to read ASAP((:

    Oh really? Thats awesome, how did you manage that?

  12. So, you know I'm always honest with you. I think your a freaking amazing blogger and reviewer, which is why I kind of have the urge to say this. Feel free to slap me later love :)

    I couldn't help but feel that you were too easygoing with this one. It doesn't really sound all that spectacular. I expected a lower rating well because apart from the fact that you could relate to it which I love btw there didn't seem to be anything all that great about it.

    I'm a fan of your reviews so I instantly get a clue that you love and adored a book, I didn't get that feeling this time, or maybe its just me?

    I've read some of her previous work and Just listen is the only one that comes to mind when I think of memorable, the others were pretty mediocre and didn't seem to have much of plot or anything amazing worthy to them. Her novels do tend to have the habit of having pretty similar concepts and this one sounds pretty familiar.

    I don't imagine it being up there with others you have given a 9+ like The Sky Is Everywhere, The lover dictionary, The Pipers Son and Hold still.

    Take away the author and can you still say it would get a 9/10? LOL its just something I picked up on because it feels like you pretty much gave that rating because of your obvious love for the author.

    Argghhh now I sound like a evil accusing witch. NOT intended honestly. Just an observation which cold be completely and utterly wrong! Feel free to tell me to shut the f*** up whenever you like! :D

  13. Nomes- ahaa, I look forward to reading yours! thanks :P

    Racquel- Eek, I thought TTAF, JL, and AFTR were better than this one... do tell me how you feel about it after you read it! Uhm, I am in contact with some awesome people :P

    Aly- I love this comment, but don't worry, I've got an awesome defense ;P I AM NOT AN OBJECTIVE READER. There. I said it *gasp*. In truth, I really did love this book, I'm not lying about that. And being completely objective, this is probably a high 8's read, but I don't mind bumping it up because it's hard to explain, but when I read a Dessen book there's some sort of magic that comes with it and makes it extra-specail for me. I don't know if I'm making sense, but I think I will be blog posting about this... after school ends and stuff... haha, but just know that I wil stick with the rating I gave it, and I *did* love the book :) thanks for the comment, and I can see where you're coming from!

  14. guys, the book sounds bad XD
    i do agree with @Blueicegal ♥ though sometimes we give extra credit for people we love & obviously SD is definitely loved its not necessary a bad thing but sometimes its not gonna make the book better. (now im dying to read the book for real!)

    & @audrey, i wish i knew the awesome people you know//:

  15. I'm really excited for this one! I have really been wanting to read some of Sarah's work, but since you said that you wouldn't recommend to those who haven't read anything by her before this shouldn't be the first novel you read....anything in pretcular that you suggest? I really want to read something by her!

  16. Great review! Lol, I'm totally with you on the double standards. I LOVED Just Listen many years back and it's been my first and my favorite all the way through. I'm glad this one was just as good, but you know, I'd really like to see Sarah Dessen challenge edgier contemporary. Or SOMETHING to mix it up. That being said, SD is the absolute queen of cute contemporary and I'm definitely going to be buying this one, haha. xD

  17. Racquel- Okay. I'll just say that I really really REALLY enjoyed this book, and we should all form our own opinions when (if) we read it.

    Zoe- YAY! Glad you're branching out, I'd definitely recommend either The Truth About Forever or This Lullaby for her :) Those are the books most people consider their fravourites by her!

    Jenn- Just Listen was the first Dessen book I couldn't put down (I read and liked This Lullaby before) but yeah, JL catalyzed my SD love. I know what you mean, I would love to see her switch things up as well, but this is kind of a... comfort read. I love her writing style and her characterizations :)

  18. Great review :)

    I've actually *never* read a Sarah Dessen book before. I have three on my bookshelf. I don't know what's wrong with me. I should get on that ASAP. They seem great.

    Isn't Audrey such a great name? Haha



for those who are confused, it means "Don't forget to be AWESOME". *hugs*