Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Goodbye Stranger

Goodbye Stranger
Rebecca Stead
3.5 / 5

Published August 4, 2015

First Sentence
"When she was eight years old, Bridget Barsamian woke up in a hospital, where a doctor told her she shouldn't be alive."

Publisher's Description:
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?

Dear Reader,

This is another one of those books I wish had been around when I was young. I really enjoyed it, and it was pretty unique. The story was the linear tale of a trio of girls growing into adolescence, but interspersed occasionally with an odd storyline told from the second person perspective: there is a little bit of a mystery thrown in. The reader begins to understand how the two stories are related as the book continues on, but I have to admit I was surprised by the reveal at the end!

The book is a great introduction for young girls into the scary world of the teenage years. The group of three girls couldn’t be more different, and these contrasts are emphasized as they grow up. One loves to wear cat ears 24/7 and is becoming interested in theater tech. Another has a Hindu background and is learning to embrace feminism. And the third is blossoming into a beautiful young woman and hanging out with older girls (and boys). The three have made a pact from the beginning that they would never fight, but those promises become strained as they try to find their way forwards, while everyone grows up. The book explores how people and friendships change, and how it is okay to realize that sometimes you grow apart from people, and it’s not the end of the world. The way the author handles it, making it sound like a normal part of life, might help young adults as they struggle through similar situations. 

This is the first time I’d also encountered any book address sexting, and I thought it was so well done. Nothing scandalous, but enough of a scare that it might teach young readers about the potential dangers of the activity and the idea that nothing you send digitally is private. A great lesson to impress upon people at a young age!

Overall, I thought the characters were all great & unique, and I even learned something about a Hindu holiday that I had never even heard of before (I love when I get to learn something completely new from a book, any book!). I will most likely be passing my copy on to my sisters for when my nieces are old enough to appreciate it; maybe I’m just an out of touch old person, but I think it has potentially strong staying power for a middle-grade audience. 


P.S. I picked this up at BEA this year and was through it inside of a day - a very quick read!

Goodbye Stranger

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