Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking, 2011
Pages: 402 p
I was lucky enough to get a copy of this book from a good friend who reviewed it for the BlogHer book review club. Check out her review.
I love Sarah Dessen (Along for the Ride, Lock and Key, Just Listen). My absolute favorite was the first book I read, Keeping the Moon, but it was before-blog days. Whenever I read a new Dessen book I feel like I'm back with a familiar friend; I can pretty much tell you what the framework will be--a troubled girl will connect with a troubled boy (usually over the summer, but not always) and although there will be bumps along the way, their friendship will blossom into romance and help the both of them. It is a testament to Dessen that she manages to do this while creating fresh characters and putting them in different situations that keep readers coming back for more.
In her latest offering, Dessen tells us of Mclean, a daughter of divorce and upheaval. Mclean, named after a famous basketball coach, once had a good childhood, until her mom decided to cheat on her Dad with the new basketball coach in town. Her parents divorced and her mom married the coach, had twins, and completely changed her life. Unable to forgive her mom, Mclean lobbies the court to allow her to stay with her father--a traveling restaurant manager who takes over failing restaurants and rehabilitates them and then moves on. This nomadic life style allows Mclean to abandon her past and the nosy gossip of her friends and to recreate herself in each new town. She changes her name, her hobbies, her style, her personality and doesn't get close to anyone knowing that it will all be over soon. Until she gets to Lakeview and she finds herself slipping and letting people know the real her, including neighbor Dave, a teen boy with problems of his own.
In addition to the troubled girl meets troubled boy theme, Dessen also likes to throw in the importance of friendship--true friendship--in her books. Girls, teens, humans, need to make meaningful connections with other people. Mclean had "friends" in all the towns she lived in, but she didn't trust any of them to tell her real name or to share her real feelings. It wasn't until she came to Lakeview and met Dave that she found her "3 a.m."--the person she knew she could call at 3 a.m. when she needed help. Connecting with Dave also allowed her to open up to other kids in school, including Deb, a girl who needed friends just as much as Mclean.
Dessen got me again with What Happened to Goodbye. I knew how the problem would be resolved, how the story would end, and yet, I still wanted to keep reading. Dessen continually creates characters that I want to connect with and stories I want to read.
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