Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Genre: Contemporary, Coming-of-Age
Published by: Anderson Press
Note: We received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
After first hearing about this book it sounded like exactly the type of thing I love to read. Recently, I’ve been wanting to give middle grade more of a chance, and coming-of-age is one of my favourite sub-genres. So, Goodbye Stranger definitely ticked boxes on paper. I’m pleased to say, once I’d finished it, it continued to tick boxes…and make me want to eat cinnamon toast.
P L O T
Goodbye Stranger is so well crafted because it makes sure there’s always something going on, with a hint of mystery around the edge. There are three different plot strands: Bridge, who’s struggling to find purpose in high school after being in a car accident that separated her from her best friends, Sherm, who’s writing letters to his absent grandfather, and the mystery girl, who’s done something unspeakable.
All of these strands were interesting, and that’s not normally the case with structures like this. But, I wanted to know everything. I think the sections I enjoyed the most were the mystery girl’s, just because they reminded me a lot of Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian, and it was such a change of pace from the freshman class Bridge and Sherm are in. It’s also told in second person which was extremely cool!
C H A R A C T E R S
Bridge – she was the cutest. She had a real complex over why she was meant to be alive, and what her purpose was. She didn’t feel as connected to her best friends, although I liked the reported backstory about their past. I could really relate to her desire to become someone new, and how hard that can be when people keep asking you why you want to change. But, a fresh start can be a good thing. Goodbye Stranger isn’t just a coming-of-age for Bridge, though. It’s for everyone.
Sherm – I really liked how he never questioned the fact that Bridge wore cat ears. He really accepted everything about her, and their relationship definitely had hidden depths as the story progressed. His letters were character revealing and so were his past times. The friendship between Bridge and he always came first.
Mystery Girl – Poor, poor mystery girl. Her identity is revealed at the very end, and I wasn’t even trying to guess throughout, so I was guaranteed to be surprised. Her sections just reiterate the struggles of high school, and how easy it is to be lead astray by negative influences. It’s important to cut toxic people out of your life, and while the mystery girl may not have been successful at this, I appreciated that in the end everything would change for her. Now knowing who it is, I feel like I have to go back and read it again, to see all the hints that were dropped!
R O M A N C E
Although I’d say that romance wasn’t a main feature of the book, it was definitely hinted at between Bridge and Sherm. In fact, it was probably my favourite part of their relationship because it was on such unsteady ground. Bridge questioned the depth of her feelings for Sherm and realised she just wanted to be friends. Sherm tried, but not in a pushy way, to see if romance would fit, but it kind of didn’t. It was so refreshing to read something where the characters didn’t immediately romantically click. Of course, you’ll have to read it to see if the epilogue says anything different…
V E R D I C T
Goodbye Stranger really impressed me. I knew what to expect and it delivered. I’m giving it four stars and will recommend it to anyone looking for their next contemporary read, or something with a fun hint of mystery shrouded around it. Now, excuse me, I have to go and buy some cat ears.