Monday, July 13, 2015

Review: Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Goodbye StrangerGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bridge should have died years ago and spends her 7th grade year figuring out the reason why she lived. Sherm Russo writes letters he doesn't intend to send as he finally allows himself to get to know Bridge. And an unnamed teenager spends Valentine's Day hiding from a mistake.

GOODBYE STRANGER is a middle grade story that could only be told by Rebecca Stead. Written from three points of view, it straddles the no man's land between upper middle school and high school. As some characters hurdle headlong into their teen years, others are pulled back to simpler times and Twinkie promises. This would be treacherous territory for other writers, but Stead deftly weaves a story of like, love, and best friends.

This novel beautifully captures the push-pull dynamic of upper middle school. From an arms race of risque selfies and an awakening feminism to the childish comfort of a silly headband, Bridge's circle of BFFs experiences the bewildering process of growing up. Stead approaches these topics with honesty, pitch-perfect dialogue, and a cast of characters who create a loving safety net.

Middle school is a confusing transition. Anyone can become a stranger to you -- a family member who has always been there for you, your best friend, and especially yourself.

I hope that teachers and librarians place GOODBYE STRANGER at the top of their recommended reading lists this fall. My advanced copy was provided by Random House through NetGalley. Look for GOODBYE STRANGER on bookshelves August 4th.

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