Have you ever read a book for the first time and didn’t like it? Then you read a second time, and you liked it a little? And then you read it for a third time and realized that the book was really good? That was my experience with What Happened to Goodbye. When the book first came out in 2011, I was really excited for it, but when I read it, I found that it was different than the previous Dessen novels. I read it again in 2012, and liked it a little bit more than the first reading, but it wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized that this book, although different than Dessen’s previous work, was pretty good.
McLean Sweet has moved again. For the fourth time in two years, she’s starting at a new school in a new town, all because of her father’s job. He’s a consultant for struggling restaurants. He goes in, figures out what’s wrong, and then tries to help turn the place around, if he can’t then the place gets sold. Her father didn’t used to have this job, he used to run his own restaurant with the help of McLean’s mother, but after a tabloid worthy affair and divorce, McLean isn’t really on good speaking terms with her mother these days. She blames her for ripping their perfect family apart.
The ugly divorce is also the reason that McLean creates new personalities with each new town she moves to. A new town, a new clean slate. She’s been Elizabeth, Beth, Lizbet, and in this town she wants to be just Liz. But not everything goes according to plan. In this town, she’s known by her real name, and she isn’t a specific type of person. She just is. She meets some interesting kids – Tracey, Leo, Riley, Ellis, Heather, and Dave – who make her come out of her usual predetermined shell.
Like I said, this book was really good. I could kind of relate to McLean’s different personalities and I understood where she was coming from. If you could, wouldn’t you reinvent yourself? I think, when I first read this book, the thing I didn’t like was that Dave and McLean didn’t really have a relationship until the last ten pages or so, but now, I kind of like that that happened. And, holy crap! Was the Jason in this book the same Jason from The Truth About Forever and Along for the Ride? If so, wow, did he ever change!
Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Compared to previous books, the climax and McLean’s history were tame and not as intense. The ending was also very different, and McLean’s mom was a piece of work until the last twenty pages.
Bookshelf worthy? It’s been on my shelf for years, why isn’t it on yours?