title & author: Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
pub info: Wendy Lamb Books, August 2015; 304 pp
audience: middle grade (10+)
genre: MG contemporary
caveats: nothing much, but the themes are definitely middle school to early high school
review excerpt: "Sensitively explores togetherness, aloneness, betrayal and love." --The New York Times Book Review
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?my thoughts:
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?
Rebecca Stead is one of the few authors whose books I buy on preorder--before they've been reviewed, before I know anything about them, before any hype has time to gather. I've read all four of her novels, and I've rejoiced at seeing her grow and deepen as a writer. Goodbye Stranger combines several standby Stead elements: multiple points of view; a bit of a mystery; the complexity of friendships as children approach all the changes that adolescence brings. One of the wonderful things about this book is that it introduces some mature themes (not sexual, just mature) that readers will discover in YA (ages 12+) fiction, but in a somewhat "safer" environment. Bridge's character, her struggles to keep her old friendships and make new ones, will resonate with middle schoolers, while the unnamed high school girl's issues speak of what may lie ahead in years to come. My favorite part of the book is the relationship between Bridge and Sherm--not really boyfriend/girlfriend, but leaning ever so slowly in that direction. And as always, Stead's writing is crisp, never wordy, and very, very real. A great addition to her canon.
Rebecca's website, here, showcases her upcoming events and her three other books--First Light; the Newbery Award winner When You Reach Me; and Liar & Spy. Her blog includes infrequent posts on news and events. She also hangs out on Twitter.
Shannon Messenger's blog to see more fun links to great middle-grade reads and giveaways!