Bridge is an accident survivor who's wondering why she's still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody's games--or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade?
This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl--as a friend?
On Valentine's Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight?
As with all Rebecca Stead novels, Goodbye Stranger warrants a second (or third, or fourth) reading to really pick up on missed details. I didn't entirely get this one. It bounced back and forth between points-of-view (and the Valentine's Day chapters are written in second person which I will pretty much always question that stylistic choice from any writer, no matter how good they are because it is just so awkward – much like this sentence) and it was difficult to completely connect with characters.
Even with the holes in my comprehension, these are the things I was able to pick up on:
1) This book straddles the line between middle grade and YA. To the point where I wouldn't be surprised if in a year or so we start seeing Goodbye Stranger on the list of frequently most challenged books.
2) It deals with topics that every middle schooler today is either dealing with or knows someone who is dealing with, and even though there will be parents out there who insist that what Stead has written is filth, I am also convinced those parents are missing out on a really important conversation with their kids.
3) This book is getting a lot of Newbery buzz. I'm not feelin' it. That's not to say it's not an important book. It just wasn't speaking Newbery to me.
What I feel like I missed:
1) While "embrace the confusion" was a good mantra for When You Reach Me because eventually everything came to one big "aha!" moment, I ended Goodbye Stranger still feeling confused, and in a way, sort of robbed of that moment of elucidation that I come to expect from a Stead novel.
2) Maybe I'm just dense, but I don't entirely get how the title fits with the story.
3) I could be wrong, but I'm not entirely sure how much kid-appeal this book will actually have even though it deals with some taboo, controversial topics. I hope to be proved wrong on that one.
For an excellent, thorough review from someone who really enjoyed Goodbye Stranger, visit Betsy Bird at A Fuse 8 Production.
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Expected Publication: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Middle Grade/Young Adult
Disclosure: ARC acquired at ALA Midwinter Conference
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