Friday, June 24, 2016

Book Review: Goodbye Stranger

Goodbye Stranger
Rebecca Stead
Wendy Lamb Books, 2015
Genre: Middle School, Friendships, YA, Growing Up, Making Mistakes
Source: purchased for my classroom library
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Bridge, Emily, and Tabitha are starting middle school and everything is different, but they have made a pact to stay friends--and no fighting allowed.  Even though they're different and each has their own niche that they find at school, they still remain true to one another.  Sherm starts to get to know Bridge and knows she's super important to him, but what does that really mean?  And an unknown girl is struggling with what it means to be a friend on Valentine's Day as her world seems to crumble around her.  

I loved this book!  It's about friendship, love ( not the romantic kind), making mistakes, and acceptance.  Bridge is so incredibly lucky to have two best friends who are amazing (and they are lucky to have her as well).  Each of them has their own personality and goes about life in their own way.  When Bridge decides to start wearing cat ears all the time, Emily and Tabitha aren't really getting it, but they don't make her change.  They are honest with her and tell her that they don't really get it and ask when she'll stop wearing them, but it never really feels like they're trying to get her to change.  When she tells them she likes wearing her ears, the friends accept that.

Emily makes some mistakes in this book--some BIG mistakes.  They're in middle school now and boys are a much bigger deal and one keeps texting her.  In fact, he's the boy everybody is in love with.  They start by texting pictures back and forth, innocent pictures, until it's not so innocent anymore and suddenly Emily's world has been turned upside down.  Tabitha and Bridge are the best two friends to help her through this.  I honestly found myself wishing that every person out there--boy or girl--got to have friends as strong and true as this trio.

In middle school there are so many issues kids go through as they are learning how to grow up.  They're no longer little kids, but they're not in high school yet and it's really a confusing and rough time.  This book shows kids from different walks of life, with different family dynamics and skills and experiences who are all coming together.  It shows a positive view of a group of female friends.  No stereotypical bickering, fighting over boys, or being generally mean and demeaning towards each other or other girls.

I was a little confused for the first few sections because in addition to Bridge, Emily, and Tabitha, we also have another female voice who is unnamed until the end.  It was confusing as her story kind of linked up with the others, but it was written in second person.  I think it was supposed to put me in her place and help me enter the story, but it didn't.  I can see how it could really confuse someone who isn't as skilled a reader.

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