Summary (from B&N):
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 her neighbor Dave, an academic superstar trying to be just a regular guy, can help her find out.
My rating: 3 stars.
If you’re looking for romance, walk away. You won’t find it in here. The typical cutesy formation of relationships in Dessen’s novels does not shine through in What Happened to Goodbye. At all.
That being said, without the romance the book is actually very stale, anticlimactic, boring. Perhaps the story drags because it totals 416 pages. But it drags – horrendously – if only because there is no action or suspense whatsoever. Nothing really adds up – not Mclean’s wanting to stay in the quirky town (how is it different than any of the others?), not her friendships (with characters that outshine her in every scene), and not her dad’s job at the restaurant.
The book has all these elements of a great story, particularly great narration, but does nothing with them. It remains flat. The characters are nothing special; they’re all very – dare I say it? – stock-like. I didn’t even really click with Dave, Mclean’s love interest, because I had no reason to. There’s no reason to like any of the characters because they don’t do anything.
The writing itself is heavy on repetition. It feels like Mclean narrates a scene, then reiterates it before narrating the next. As such, there’s a building block feel to the structure. But unless you’re forgetting things that quickly, there’s no need for it and it slows the pace.
On the upside, it’s very heartfelt and real – like Dessen’s other novels. Unfortunately the lack of direction gives the story little purpose.