What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to Goodbye - Sarah Dessen This was my first Sarah Dessen, and I have to say I understand why she's so popular. The character of McLean Sweet was well developed, and I liked her from the start. Too, I found the dialogue and general narrative style of the book to be very realistic and readable. I'm looking forward to reading more Dessens in the near future.

That said, what kept this book from being a 4 or 5 star read for me (it was actually a 3.5 star) was the story itself. I felt like not a whole lot happened. McLean Sweet has spent the past two years reinventing herself with every move she and her father make as he pursues his career as a restaurant consultant. Still hurting from what she sees as her mother's betrayal that caused her parents' divorce, McLean feels the need to leave the past behind as she tries to figure out who she really is.

The problem with this premise is that we meet McLean as she's embarking on a new personae and we are simply told of her past incarnations. Since we never see McLean as "Eliza" the cheer queen or "Lisbet" the drama goddess or "Beth" the school joiner, it's hard to appreciate McLean's sense of vulnerability as she finally shows her true self to the new people she meets.

One issue I had with this book drove me completely batty. A giant subplot involves McLean and her friends assembling a massive small-scale model of their community, Lakeview, in the attic of the restaurant of her father's latest restaurant project. Presumably, this project is something they plan to share with the rest of the town. Yet never once is the problem of how they were to get the model out of the attic and into a public place mentioned. I kept wondering why these kids would spend months putting together a gigantic spread-out model that they'd never be able to move out of the attic or how they planned to solve that problem - disassemble the whole thing and re-assemble it? Drove me crazy.

Anyway, this was an okay read, but I kept waiting for something to happen. It's what I call a "small" story - nothing huge ever happens even though the characters do change.