Book Review: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Up this week on the review train is What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen. I figured why not dive into this book as I took my own trip and said goodbye—to my house and fish—for a weekend.
There is something about Sarah Dessen’s writing that draws you in. I swear if I was put in front of this book without having known the author I’d be able to peg it to her without a doubt. She has a simple style that just always seems to work.

Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Combining Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling,
What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading. –Quoted from Goodreads.
Mclean Sweet is always moving and always trying to find out who she is. Whether it’s the drama queen, cheerleader or the school league joiner, each town offers a new prospective on life and a new name. But when she finds herself in her newest locale, Mclean realizes none of those other names and personas fit. And that maybe she needs to figure out who she is finally by trying to just be herself. With the help of slightly weird, genius and cute David, of course, she has her happily ever after and becomes the person she always was, but now is finally comfortable enough with it.
First off, I love the main characters name, and the story behind it. It adds such an awesome extra string to the storyline that is woven in. Mclean is cool, it’s different, and well it makes you realize that everyone should have fun picking out their character names and give them a cute story behind it. What I’m not overly fond of? How we never really did get that super connection that is so often present with all other Dessen characters. Mclean’s narrative voice just didn’t strike me as well as it should have.
However, the supporting characters of this novel do add so much to the tale, I liked them all instantly from David, the boy next door who wasn’t afraid of showing everyone who he was. Mclean’s father Gus was just full of life and excitement, with his busy restaurant consulting, that each time he was present, I just couldn’t wait to see what he had to say. Opal, the snarky and fun restaurant manager who butted heads with Gus but managed to steal his heart, and show that she wasn’t willing to let someone ruin everything she had worked so hard for. And even Deb, the unlikely ally that managed to show everyone a thing or two about life, had a fun personality that made you cringe, laugh and wonder why she wasn’t the focus of the novel.
And of course, what Dessen novel wouldn’t be complete without a little romance, right? Well, sadly this one just didn’t have it all. The novel was slow to start, so was the connection between Mclean and David. There were so many “will they or won’t they” scenes that after a while it became increasingly frustrating. I literally wanted to jump into the novel and force David and Mclean, who for the most part seemed utterly oblivious to the chemistry the two had with each other to have a date, a kiss, something that promised they’d be thrown together.  This just didn’t have the usual gusto that Dessen is so well known for when it comes to romance and her characters.
The conflict between Mclean and her estranged mother was an interesting plot point, but there were times when I admit, I felt that Mclean was just taking it too personally, and acting a little childish. With that said, I think it was one of the things that kept the novel going, and the pace progressing. We often really had no idea what would come of the two and if they’d solve their differences, which did have me turning the page. But when it comes to conflict and Dessen novels, this one could have had more punch.
One of my favourite things about this and other Dessen novels are the fun character cameos from other novel’s she tosses in. It adds a little bit more excitement, and reminds me about all the other Dessen novel’s I truly did love and will never forget.
For me, this was a great read, but it just didn’t quite measure up to all the other Dessen novel’s before it. I find that she is a wild card, sometimes she amazes me with her characters, the story, the romance, and sometimes she just falls a little flat. For me this novel could be slid back into the deck, and within a few weeks, sadly I won’t remember it.
That of course doesn’t mean I won’t be picking up her next novel, because I will. She’s had enough winners on her side, that no matter what I will always be a fan!

2 Response to "Book Review: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen"

  1. Samantha Vérant Says:

    I've had Sarah Dessen on my list of TBRs for quite some time! Thanks for the reminder! Also, could you do me a favor and stop by blog again. I have no idea what's going on. If there's still a problem, please email me at samantha(dot)verant(at)gmail(dot)com

    Thanks, and nice meeting you on AW!

    Dare to follow your heart

  2. Avery Olive Says:

    Thnaks for stopping by! I think Sarah Dessen is a great Author, just some times her consistency is a little lacking, but she still always gives you a good read.

    I'm on my away to your blog now!