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by Rebecca Stead
published by Wendy Lamb Books
The BlurbNewbery Medal winner, Rebecca Stead, writes about the changes and challenges of relationships during middle school. She explores identity, self concept, and loyalty in this novel told from multiple perspectives.
My Two CentsI read When You Reach Me a while back and realized I had happened upon an author who really had her sights on the heartbeat of the middle grade set. Obviously, I wanted to read more...so I began reading Liar & Spy. And now, I've just finished Goodbye, Stranger. Once again, Stead has impressed me with her focus on the concerns and convictions of the tween years.
Bridge is the character I clung to. She questions why she's here in a way only a middle school student can. Existentialism aside, her relationships are changing--as are all their bodies! She joins a club, makes a new friend, and tries to hang on to her old ones too.
Sherm is the character I really get. He is the guy you want to be friends with. Loyal. Unchanging. Quietly funny. But under all that calm, he is dealing with betrayal and hurt. But he keeps trucking along...still trying to do the right thing.
This book tackles hormones, betrayal, and sexting--but all in the most innocent and age appropriate way. As the parent of a child in the target age range, I appreciate the way Stead handled these issues. She shows characters thinking through their actions and lamenting poor choices, but never gets preachy.
It is a book I would have enjoyed as a kid...and it's a book I truly enjoyed as an adult. Stead's pen is right on the heartbeat of tween issues and concerns. She has a fan for life in this reader.