I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Published by Random House on August 4, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Middle Grade
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?
I have never read a Rebecca Stead book, but Goodbye Stranger was a fantastic surprise, so I know it won’t be my last book from this author. The writing was beautiful; it was simple but profound, which is why I think it will appeal to a broad range of readers. At the center of the story is Bridge, who survived a being hit by a car as a child and now, in junior high, has an existential question hanging over her head; did I survive for a reason? That question is built upon as the stories start to take shape and each character has to make decisions about the type of person they are and the type of person they want to be. First romance, social media, and trusting your instincts all played a part in building the book’s foundation. I loved the friendships in Goodbye Stranger. Tab, Bridge and Em are supportive of each other, even if the don’t always agree, and there just isn’t enough of that type of female relationships in books. I also loved the adults. While they definitely stayed in the background, they were there and they were not absentee or negligent; they were an influential part in the lives of their kids and I felt their presence in the story, even if they weren’t completely fleshed out as characters,
The goodbyes in this book were more of the transitional variety. Every character is trying to figure out how to say goodbye to a situation, a friendship, an interaction, or just a way of doing things that isn’t working. While the characters were young, I could still relate to everything they were going through, and I think you would be hard pressed to find any adult who couldn’t relate this book to things hey have experienced both in adolescence and their adult life. There are two narratives happening and they eventually intersect, but until they do, the reader is treated to two very engaging and, at times, emotional stories. I really, really loved the way I came to care about each person in this story and how they eventually found what they were looking for in order to say that special goodbye. I accepted this book for review a bit skeptical since the characters were younger than the YA I usually read, but I would recommend this heart-warming book to readers of all ages.