“I guess my question is this: Is the new you the stranger? Or is the stranger the person you left behind?
– Rebecca Stead, Goodbye Stranger
Back in grade five, Bridge, Tabitha and Emily made a pact. Never to fight, ever. Now, two years later, they’re still best friends, but other things are changing. Bridge meets Sherm, and is soon excited and confused by her new, strange feelings. And when Emily starts texting pictures of herself to Patrick, Bridge and Tab find themselves complicit in a naïve plan that quickly spirals out of control.
And while the three friends navigate the challenges of their changing friendship, another story—of betrayal and remorse—keeps you guessing until the very end.
Goodbye Stranger is a tender and intricate story about friendships, and love, and the pain of sometimes making the wrong choices.
Oh boy, I know I say this a lot but I was really, really, really excited when Goodbye Stranger arrived in the letterbox! I have been a huge Rebecca Stead fan ever since I read When You Reach Me a few years ago. Her characters are usually on the younger side of YA but Stead is such a wonderful writer that her ability to transcend the ages of her characters and write about issues that any reader can easily relate too is a joy to read!
Told from three alternating perspectives, the characters in Goodbye Stranger are all struggling to come to terms with who they are and how they fit into the world around them. Bridge, Tabitha and Emily made a pact to never fight but when Bridge meets Sherm, Emily and Patrick start sharing photos and Tab is fighting to save the world, it all gets a little complicated. The chapters alternate between the three girls, an unnamed character who is hiding from the world and Sherm, who writes letters to his Grandfather that he never sends, trying to understand why he left.
What I love most about this book is the way a curtain can be drawn back on a story set in early high school with selfies, crushes and silly contests to reveal a layered discussion of friendships, relationships, betrayal, bodies, and feminism. There is a depth and complexity to Stead’s books that makes it a ‘cautionary tale’ of sorts; a book people really want to read. After surviving a terrible accident at the age of eight, Bridge is far more introspective and contemplative than your usual thirteen-year-old girl. Surrounded by a loving family and a tight group of friends, she ponders the meaning of her life and why she is still alive. What is her reason for being? Big stuff for a young mind! On the other hand, Emily has a blossoming body that is attracting a fair amount of attention from the opposite sex. Throw in Tab’s copy-cat feminism from her teacher and you get a story revolving around three girls pushing the boundaries of their friendship with each other, and their relationships with those around them. Familiarity and strangeness are juxtaposed between the characters and their own sense of self.
Rebecca Stead creates my favourite kinds of teenagers, so full of curiosity about the world and a willingness to explore the unknown. There is an innocence about them, even when it all goes wrong, they still manage to find their way. Goodbye Stranger is my favourite of Stead’s books so far. Bravo!
AUTHOR: Rebecca Stead
PUBLISHER: Text Publishing
PUB DATE: 5 August 2015
Thank you to Text Publishing for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!