What Happened to Goodbye - by Sarah Dessen
What Happened to Goodbye

"Dessen makes you love all the characters. You'll wish you had the circle of friends Mclean has."


What would you do if you had moved three times in the past two years, and you had to move AGAIN almost halfway through your senior year? Well that's exactly what Mclean had to do in Sarah Dessen's book, What Happened To Goodbye. Mclean, the main character, is trying to find herself in another new town. She planned to just live there, not get tied down, because with her dad's job, they'll be gone in a few months. Then she meets Dave, and everything changes.

I've read several other books written by Sarah Dessen, like Dreamland, and Just Listen. This particular book is what I expected from Sarah Dessen. She writes about real teenage life, with a dash of this-only-happens-in-books scenarios, which we, as girls, love to read about and hope that our lives would be just like the girls in Dessen's books. The way she writes is so simple, that it makes any of her books very light, enjoyable reads - books you would want to read just because.

The characters in this story are believable; the way the characters talk to each other and interact with each other is exactly how teenagers would talk and interact. Dessen develops the characters very well. You are sad when they're sad, mad when they're mad. There's nothing unrealistic about them. At the point of the climax, I was on the verge of tears because Mclean's world was seemingly falling apart.

Dessen makes you love all the characters. There's Dave, a quiet, but very sweet guy that's run into some bad luck lately, and Deb, the quirky, bubbly girl that just wants to fit in, to name a few. You'll wish you had the circle of friends Mclean has.

Although I absolutely adore Dessen's work, there were a few things that I didn't really like about this book. I thought that the significance of the old hotel could have been explained a bit better, so the reader could understand an event towards the end. Then, I really thought she needed to dig a little deeper with the character Opal. I found her really difficult to understand. But overall, she's an amazing, talented writer. And I really hope she keeps writing as well as she is now.

I do recommend this book. If you're into teenage love or the young love books, any and all of Dessen's books will suit you just fine. This one's a really easy and quick read, and you'lll connect with all the characters in some way whoever you are. Sarah Dessen has done it again with What Happened to Goodbye. I hope you enjoy!

   - Haileigh S.



"with characters as real as the people I go to school with"


In What Happened to Goodbye, Sarah Dessen's main focus is on change and self-identity. The novel covers changes from moving to divorce and tackles common problems that teenagers face on a daily basis. The plot follows Mclean, a girl struggling to find herself, as she moves to a new place for the fourth time due to her father's job. At each of the other three places, she became someone so unlike herself, that now being just Mclean, well, it's a little confusing and frightening to say the least. In one of her earlier moves, she became the drama star at her school. In another move, she was the popular cheerleader. In her third school, she was the president of many of the school clubs. Each of the moves took place over a relatively short period of time.

Her father's job is to move to different restaurants that are struggling, and to work as their new chef. So, his job causes him to be out of the picture because he work constantly. However, Mclean is very close to her dad and she likes to spend time with him. As the novel progresses, Mclean finds a group of friends that changes her life for the better. At the center of the group is Dave, the most "real" person that Mclean has ever met. The two main focuses of the book are on her budding friendship with Dave, and her relationship with her parents.

In this book, Dessen captures the essence of the teenage spirit. I found myself picturing each person described as someone I already know. Dessen's dialogue is normal and has a flow that can only be described as natural and familiar. I personally chose this book because it covers two things that I've become all too familiar with: divorce and moving. However, the aftermath for Mclean was a little tougher than my situation. She had trouble recovering the relationship with her mother: "Even all this time later it still seemed impossible that she'd done it. The very act and fact was still capable of unexpectedly knocking the wind out of me at random moments." I think that's a statement that tends to encompass the feelings aligned with divorce. This story helps me remember that I am not the only teenager to move because her parent's divorced. Now, I know I'm not alone.

Dessen's writing is almost reassuring in the sense that she acknowledges the feeling of needing someone to blame. Most of the characters in this novel are as real as the people that I go to school with. In particular, Mclean and Dave fit other teenagers that I know. I can only think of them as real people. The most unrealistic character is Deb. Her character has so many things going on that it is impossible to get a firm grasp on her character.

The plot of What Happened to Goodbye is very smooth and solid. Everything moves along at a safe tempo until the climax where things begin to pick up. However, the plot, like in most of Dessen's novels, is predictable. There is no guess work needed.

While there is no suspense, I could not put the book down when I read it. One of the best things about What Happened to Goodbye is the relationship between Mclean and Dave. As the reader, you are able to watch the relationship blossom, one petal at a time. Even when it might become something more, they remain simply friends. Their relationship is also wonderful because Dave becomes the backbone for Mclean's self-realization. Without him, she might have just chosen another name or chose a different personality.

Although this isn't Dessen's finest work, it is still quite enjoyable to the reader. It can only be described as uplifting. What Happened to Goodbye is an excellent exampleof what teenage romantic fiction should be.

   - Cate R.



"Sarah Dessen is a very insightful writer; she seems to understand completely the thoughts of teenagers."


"Sometimes it seems safer to hold it all in, where the only person who can judge is yourself." Mclean Sweet, the main character in What Happened to Goodbye hides her true personality as she moves from town to town with her divorced father, Gus Sweet. Mclean has been a few different people the last few years: a cheerleader, president of every school club, a star in theater, but she has yet to be herself. She even changes her name each time she moves. She thinks of it as a new, fresh start from the devastating, public divorce of her parents. In her mind, it is much simpler to change the person she is in each town so that when she leaves it will not be as hard to part with the people she has met.

Changing her name and personality comes to a halt, however, when she and her father move for the fourth time. She immediately makes friends with Riley, Deb, and especially Dave. Instead of changing her name like usual, she stays Mclean. There is only one problem—she is not very sure what it means to be Mclean Sweet anymore. Mclean realizes she is not going to figure out who she is until she learns to deal with her parent's divorce and discovers how to forgive her mother.

In the novel, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely teenagers. She reveals the darkness of everyday life and problems many teenagers face. Mclean experiences the darkness of a heartbreaking divorce of the two she loves most. The perfect love story in Mclean's mind turned out to be quite the opposite. Sarah Dessen writes about Mclean's journey of coping with what seemed to be a hopeless situation. The divorce of Mclean's parents destroyed her desire to ever have a romantic relationship.

"He was a nice guy, but I didn't have time for a nice guy, or any guy, really." Mclean was scared of yet another betrayal. If she could save herself from pain, she was going to do just that by keeping herself distant from whatever could cause it. Sarah Dessen later reveals the hope in this dark situation. Not everything coming from an unscrupulous situation is actually bad.

This novel contains relatable situations that allow readers to really connect with the characters and feel a part of the story. Sarah Dessen is a very insightful writer; she seems to understand completely the minds and thoughts of teenagers. The characters she creates in her writings are real, well-developed, and believable. So believable that when reading her book one would almost feel like they know the characters on a personal level.

   - Sarah T.



"Stay true to yourself. You cannot escape who you really are."


Have you ever been dissatisfied with who you are? Or find yourself wanting to become someone else? Bestselling author Sarah Dessen admits in high school she was never happy with herself and never liked her hair, clothes, or personality. In the touching novel What Happened to Goodbye, the narrator/main character, Mclean, goes through the same struggle of trying to find her real identity after living a life without one.

Sarah Dessen is one of my all-time favorite authors When I found out I had a chance to read her newest book, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and start reading! My favorite part of this book was how easy it was to read. Dessen always writes in a way I can easily understand and relate to as a teenage girl. This book really hit home with me because Dessen relates it to situations that are not usually written about, like divorce. Dessen's characters are always realistic so readers can really connect to them and now what they're feeling. My favorite character was Deb. Deb is a complex, exciting girl who is boht funny and quirky.

Even though I Ioved this book, it wasn't my favorite book of Dessen's It was still a great read, but I feel like it lacked something special. I think there were a couple of things that could have been added to spice the story up and keep tension growing throughout the book. I struggled right along with Mclean in trying to figure out who she was and by the end, I was still left a little confused.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. Dessen has written another amazing book that readers everywhere can enjoy. Everyone should take the meaning to heart. Stay true to yourself. Everyone, at some point, wants to change something about themselves: whether it's to be smarter or healthier, to be a tad funnier. The moral of this story is you cannot escape who you really are. The journey that Mclean goes on to finally realize this is one that you will hopefully go on with her. I cannot wait to read Dessen's next book and, hopefully, this review has convinced you to look into this one.

   - Claire L.



"Anyone coming from a split family can relate to Mclean's situation."


I enjoyed this book because I felt that anyone coming from a split family, which is common, can relate to Mclean's situation. Other teens can also relate to the many different phases Mclean went through to finally find who she really was. Even though it took some time, she has to find her way back to being herself.

The author's style is unique. Not only does Dessen develop the character well, but she uses vocabulary and syntax that teenagers can understand. She also relates situations most teens go through and learn to overcome. The plot is very detailed and the situation is reinforced with many examples.

I did feel Dessen could have mentioned more about Mclean's life changes. This would allow the reader to really connect with the character and almost feel what the character feels. All in all, the book's a good read. I can't wait to see what Dessen writes next.

   - Hannah S.



"I laughed. I cried. I felt every emotion Mclean and Dave felt."


Sarah Dessen never fails to create a perfectly relatable story about a teen who is just trying to find out who she really is. What Happened to Goodbye is an absolutely realistic interpretation of what a lot of teenagers go through. I, personally, very much enjoyed this book. I literally read all 286 pages in one day. Once it grabbed by attention at the beginning I couldn't put it down. I was almost disappointed when I had to stop reading for a coupe of hours to go to dance class. What really captivated me were the characters. They were so relatable. It was nice to read a novel where teens were portrayed in a real way.

Every young adult struggles to find his or her place in the world. That's something I struggle with on a personal level. I've learned in high school that I just can't do it all. I can't join every club, take dance classes and music lessons, play sports, participate in theater, and keep up my grades all at the same time. The decision of what to do with her life is difficult for McLean. Every new city she lives in is a new start for her, a place for her to try new activities and decide where she should spend her time.

The book opened by eyes to the fact that the more you lie to yourself and other about who you are, the harder it is for you to get back once you are ready to just be yourself again. Also, it's just better to act natural than to put yourself into situations where you're forcing yourself to act a certain way. People can tell when you're uncomfortable.

Of course, the romance melted my heart. I laughed, I cried, I felt every emotion that Mclean and Dave felt. They seemed perfect for each other. Their personalities blend really well. I would recommend this book to anyone, teen or adult. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Well done, Sarah Dessen!

   - Lauren B.



"realizing not everyone is perfect gives the reader a sense of comfort and connection"


I really enjoyed Sarah Dessen's book, What Happened to Goodbye. I have read many of Sarah Dessen's books and I admire her writing. She uses realistic characters and circumstances so that anyone and everyone can relate. In this particular story, she tells of Mclean Sweet, a senior girl in high school.

Mclean lives a happy, normal life, until her parents have a messy divorce. After that, she goes to live with her dad, who is a restaurant consultant. Because of this job, Mclean and her dad are forced to move towns quite often. Each time Mclean changes towns, she takes on a new personality: the popular cheerleader, the preppy school girl, the active student council president, etc. This book takes place in her newest town, where she has trouble figuring out who she truly is and wants to be.

Out of the many Sarah Dessen books I have read, this was one of my favorites. It was very realistic and believable, which made it much easier to fully embrace the story being told. The main character of Mclean Sweet can relate to almost anyone in some kind of way. She deals with problems at home, problems with friends, boyfriends, school, etc. This makes the reader feel more connected to the protagonist, as most readers have experienced the same troubles at some point in time.

Also, throughout the entire book, Mclean attempts to keep her messy past hidden. She does not want anyone to discover her flaws, so she continues to reinvent herself. All people can empathize with this. Everyone has something about themselves that they would like to change or keep hidden from society. However, as Mclean discovers throughout the book, this proves to be an almost impossible task.

Reading Mclean's story and realizing that not everyone has a perfect, clean slate gives the reader a sense of comfort and connection. It makes the book more enjoyable to know that you are not alone, that other people go through the same difficulties as you and do not always have a bright outcome. Many books are unrealistic, with perfect fairy tale endings. This book, however, gives the cold, hard truth. Although it can be harsh, it is nice to read a book that is realistic and honest about today's society.

In addition, to keep the reader intrigued, Sarah Dessen uses many surprising twists and turns in the plot. Throughout the book, as well as most of her books, the reader learns that they must expect the unexpected, as the plot seems to change frequently. In my opinion, this adds to the successfulness in all of her books. It leaves you wanting to read more and more in order to find out what happens next. I honestly had trouble putting the book down for this reason.

This book could be enjoyed by readers of any age. Anyone can look back on their high school years and remember those same struggles. The on and off friendships, the dramatic relationships, the quick romances, the trouble with parents, they are all things that people can relate to at some point. I think that Sarah Dessen once again did an excellent job. What Happened to Goodbye is definitely a book worth reading.

   - Megan S.


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