Reviews for What Happened to Goodbye
Booklist Reviews 2011 May #1
Mclean and her father have just moved to yet another town; the constant motion is an escapist strategy since her parents' acrimonious divorce, and usually, while her father tries to turn around another failing restaurant, Mclean attends the local high school and sports her newest identity. Here in Lakeview, though, Mclean suddenly feels like herself--not a cheerleader, a drama geek, or a joiner, but Mclean, a new girl who gradually makes friends and may even have a boyfriend. Roots are dangerous, though, since her father will inevitably want to leave again. The novel nimbly weaves together familiar story lines of divorce, high-school happiness and angst, and teen-identity struggles with likable, authentic adult and teen characters and intriguing yet credible situations. The topics may be well-trod territory, but Dessen once again offers a substantive, well-crafted exploration of a teen's life that will deeply satisfy her legions of fans. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
Mclean's dad's job sends the two of them to a new place every few months, allowing Mclean to continually reinvent herself. In their latest town, she tells the boy next door her real name--a strong hint that she may finally be home. Dessen's talent is creating a comfortable space for young adults struggling with identity, relationships, and all that messy family stuff. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #4
After her parents' messy and public divorce (mom left dad for the hot new basketball coach at the local U), Mclean chooses to hit the road with her dad rather than stay and face the embarrassing gossip. She develops strategies for protecting herself: avoiding her mother as much as possible, no long-term commitments, and no good-byes. Luckily for Mclean, her dad's restaurant consulting job sends them to a new place every few months, giving her the chance to reinvent herself every time. Adapting her middle name, Elizabeth, she transforms into Eliza the cheerleader, Lizbet the drama queen, and Beth, "student-council secretary and all-around joiner." What teen hasn't dreamed of a fresh start where no one knows you and all your fatal flaws? Mclean arrives in their latest town, Lakeview, ready to start her next life as simple "Liz," but without thinking, she tells the boy next door her real name -- a strong hint that she may finally be home. Dessen's novels are comfortably predictable; the sweet, geeky neighbor is sure to spark a romance, just as untethered Mclean is destined to put down roots at last, building attachments at school and in her dad's new restaurant. Dessen's talent is creating just that comfortable space for young adults struggling with identity, relationships, and all that messy family stuff. Her quirky characters reach out to one another to forge genuine friendships and gentle first loves -- and she even gives those clueless parents a chance at redemption. lauren adams Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2011 April #2
Readers can count on Dessen; she's a pro at creating characters caught at a nexus of change, who have broken relationships and who need to make decisions.
Here readers meet Mclean, who has been living a nomadic existence with her divorced father for the past two years, reinventing herself every time they move for his job (a restaurant fixer). For some reason, this town is different. She finds herself moving through the world again as Mclean—not Eliza, Lisbeth or Beth—and making friends, almost reluctantly. She's been avoiding her mother diligently, as it was her affair with the coach of the college-basketball program Mclean and her dad lived for that broke the family up. As she becomes closer with friends and the cute boy next door, she also finds herself involved in a project—assembling an intricate three-dimensional model of the town—sited in an unused room above the restaurant her father is trying to turn around. It doesn't take a keen literary eye to see that Mclean is literally building a community, both in the physical model and the emotional network she finds in her new friends. She's an entirely likable narrator, guiding readers through her story expertly, always consciously a beat behind them.
Even though Mclean's path is clear from the get-go, readers will enjoy every minute they spend with her. (Fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 February #3
Dessen's 10th novel is another smoothly written journey of self-discovery. Mclean Sweet, named for "the all-time winningest basketball coach of Defriese University," has moved four times in two years, following her father's job as a restaurant consultant. Each time she moves she reinvents herself, not so much to try on a new identity but to rid herself of the original one--only daughter of a couple whose divorce was an awful, public scandal. It becomes clear that although Defriese basketball was her father's obsession, Mclean's idol was her mother, and Mclean's lasting anger adds an emotional punch to a long narrative that doesn't otherwise have much of an arc. It will delight Dessen's passionate fans that Mclean and her father have landed in Lakeview (capital of Dessenland) and that the action ricochets between there and familiar (fictional) beach towns. As Mclean figures out how to make peace with her mother, she relies on friends made at both school and at the restaurant her father is trying to save. Dessen delivers another cast of authentic, likable characters, struggling to make sense of the world. Ages 12-up. (May) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2011 June
Gr 7 Up--Mclean Sweet, 17, has moved four times in the last three years. Surviving the scandalous breakup of her parents' marriage, she chooses to live with her father, a restaurant fixer who is assigned to a new project every few months. Although her mother, remarried and with three-year-old twins, tries regularly to reconnect with her, McLean is angry and resentful and will hardly have a conversation with her. In each town, she takes on a different name (some version of Elizabeth) and persona, and keeps personal relationships at arm's length. Now, in Lakeview, McLean is making friends in spite of herself. She is befriended by her neighbor and his close-knit group of buddies, and her resistance to making real and lasting connections starts to dissolve. Working together on an intricate model of the community is a not-so-subtle metaphor for Mclean building an emotional community for herself. When it's time for her dad to move on, she must decide where she will live for the final few months before heading off to college. Her ability to come to terms with the concessions and compromises people make in every meaningful relationship allows her to accept her fate as her dad is sent to another job and her mom moves (back) into her heart. These characters are real and interesting and the story line unrolls smoothly and with purpose. There's a slight lack of tension, however, that keeps it from being truly compelling. Still, Dessen's fans will be happy to devour this latest offering and will surely be able to relate to one of several engaging and evolving teenagers that populate the novel.--Karen Elliott, Grafton High School, WI [Page 114]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
VOYA Reviews 2011 June
Dessen scores a three-pointer with this skillfully written novel about family and starting over. Mclean and her father, a restaurant consultant, move around a lot because of his job after she chooses him over her mother. Her mom cheated on her dad in the most hurtful way possible and ruined his passion--basketball--for him forever. Because of this, Mclean is very protective of her father. Moving all of the time allows Mclean to reinvent herself over and over again. She is able to hide from herself. The problem is that she never has the chance to make friends and settle into her life. This is just fine with her; roots hurt too much when they are ripped out. With the latest move, things could change--whether Mclean likes it or not Dessen's prose is clean and focused, the characters are developed and real, and the plot is believable. Mclean's journey through the healing process after her parents' divorce provides bibliotherapy for any teen dealing with family issues, and the secondary plot of tentative steps toward trust and friendship is beautiful. This is a must-have for any young adult collection.--Kristina Weber 5Q 5P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.