Posts tagged ‘thetruthaboutforever’

August 12th, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: What Happened to Goodbye

Author: Sarah Dessen

Published: May 10th, 2011

Number of Pages: 402

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

Who is the real McLean?

Since her parents’ bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother’s new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Combing Sarah Dessen’s trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading. [From Goodreads]

Quote:

Your past is always your past. Even if you forget it, it remembers you

Review:

If someone were to walk up to me and ask if I’d read a book by Sarah Dessen, I’d probably say, “Of course! I love her!”, but if I really consider it, I have to admit that I don’t love all of her books. Some of them, no matter how built-up they seem to be by her adoring fans, fall flat with me. They seem to be ghosts of books of hers that I like more, and I can’t help but feel that the storylines, characters, setting, etc. are getting kind of… stale.

Now, I don’t want to judge her next book prematurely. It could blow my mind – I hope it does – but this one certainly didn’t. What Happened to Goodbye is sweet. It’s nice. It’s sort of like a chick flick you go to see in theaters simply because you could use a little formulaic happily-ever-after in your life. Sometimes, you’re surprised by the wittiness, the characters, or – let me just say it – the wardrobe, and you decide to purchase that movie later. What Happened to Goodbye simply lacked that spice, that oomph to make it stand out.

McLean is likable, and I found her way of coping with her past (and present) intriguing. I know that I couldn’t shed my own character so swiftly and zip myself into the suit of someone else. I wish that we had learned more about her previous personalities and that they played a larger role in her development. The fact that she was changing herself was crucial, but I feel like an opportunity was missed to deepen her character. It would have been so much more interesting if Dessen had taken the time to make all the different McLeans matter. However, I wasn’t too caught up on this as I read and managed to enjoy the story just the same.

Dessen’s books tend to involve 1) Romance, 2) Family drama, and 3) The food business. Whether it be catering, renovating struggling restaurants (as in this book), or simply visits to a Waffle House. I love this aspect. Incorporating food always makes things better, does it not? I also appreciate the insight into jobs and businesses I likely will never be a part of on my own. I feel like an insider – like I’m getting a VIP sneak-peek behind the scenes.

The secondary characters in the novel are the main reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I did some of Dessen’s other novels (particularly The Truth About Forever, which remains my favorite). They seemed like shadows of characters in her other books (and the love interest is no exception, sadly). Perhaps she threw in a few quirks, a tattoo here, a dark past there, but their personalities were a bit too familiar. Ironically, one of the only characters to stand out to me has been in past books of Dessen’s – Jason. He’s taken quite a turn in his life, and I believe it’s done him wonders. I would love to run into him in future books and see what drastic changes he’s made, or how he’s settled. Either one would intrigue me, as he’s changed so much already.

I appreciate the fact that Sarah Dessen chooses to deal with some common issues. Divorce is, sadly, an incredibly common problem. Sometimes, it is for the best and the family manages to thrive afterwards. However, in McLean’s case, the divorce has thrown her life for a spin. There’s one passage in which she talks about this that rang true to me in an unexpected way (and also made me appreciate the wholeness of my own family):

But in the real world, you couldnt really just split a family down the middle, mom on one side, dad the other, with the child equally divided between. It was like when you ripped a piece of paper into two: no matter how you tried, the seams never fit exactly right again. It was what you couldn’t see, those tiniest of pieces, that were lost in the severing, and their absence kept everything from being complete.

Isn’t it gorgeous? And heart-wrenching at the same time? It’s thoughts like that in Sarah Dessen’s novels that keep me coming back for more, even when the book is a little lackluster in my eyes. She manages to encompass issues that rack peoples’ souls in one, dense paragraph.

Unfortunately, What Happened to Goodbye did not astound me or keep me turning pages wildly, but I appreciate it nonetheless for the profound or sweet moments scattered through it and would recommend it to the people who, when asked if they’ve read one of Dessen’s books, reply, “Of course! I love her!”

July 8th, 2011

Characters I’d Name My Sons After

by Madeleine Rex

The second installment in baby name posts! As I said before in my previous post, Characters I’d Name My Daughters After, I stole this idea from Audrey over at holes In My brain (a blog you should definitely read even if you don’t care what we want to name our children).

Characters I’d Name My Sons After:

Walter
Walter Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables series. Yet again another Anne character I actually intend to name a child after. I know Walter might not appear to be the most… attractive name to begin with, but read the books. Read the books and love them. Walter Blythe is someone I have a particular connection to – I love him so much. I can’t say more without revealing his fate, but he’s absolutely, unarguably inspiring.

Jem
Jem is also one of Anne Shirley’s sons. I’m not planning on naming a child after him because that would be overkill, but I love the name. It’s short for James, obviously, but the nickname is so endearing. He’s a brave, silly, and fantastic little boy who grows into an even more valiant and impressive young man.

Henry
Henry from Miranda Kenneally’s upcoming Catching Jordan. I love Henry. He’s beautiful with all his flaws and quirks. He’s the sort of character that immediately feels like a best friend you would love to have in real life, and sometimes it kills me that these fantastic characters can never love me back. Henry’s a gem folks, and I can’t wait for you all to have the opportunity to read Catching Jordan!

Wes
Wes from The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (Review). The Truth About Forever was the first Dessen book I read, and I can assure you that Wes makes that book. Even amidst the terribly fun cast of the book, he stands out as the sort of boy any girl would be thrilled to have. I think he prompted me to say sa-wooon for the first time in my life. Need I say anything more?

Linden
Linden from Wither by Lauren DeStefano (Review). This name is so odd and beautiful at the same time. Plus, there are these mysterious undertones to it in my ears due to the mysterious nature of his character. I never know what to think of him, but I do know that I’m inclined to like him. You all need to read it and tell me what you think!

May 21st, 2011

Fictional Characters I’d Name My Daughter After

by Madeleine Rex

Isn’t this a fantastic topic? I’ve robbed it from Audrey. I have definitely spent time contemplating this. After all, I’m a girl – it’s natural to daydream about baby names. Even more importantly, I’m a reader – so it’s natural to adore fictional characters to the point of ridiculousness. Hence, this post.

Fictional Characters I’d Name My Daughter After:

Anne
Anne Shirley from the Anne of Green Gables series. I actually plan on naming a girl after her. I absolutely love everything about her and love everything about the series and love everything about the people and have I mentioned I love her? See? I adore her to the point that I’ll throw punctuation and sentence structure right out the window. This is serious stuff.

Macy
Macy from The Truth About Forever. If I were being more literal here, all the names would be from books written in the 1800s. I love the old-fashioned ones. However, Macy is one of the more modern names that I really like. It’s unique and has a short-and-sweet quality to it that appeals to me. Plus, The Truth About Forever is an irresistible book.

Lina
Another name I absolutely want to use for a child someday! It’s short for Caroline, and I first came across it when attempting to read Shirley by Charlotte Bronte. I’ve loved the two other books I’ve read of Charlotte’s, but I couldn’t seem to get through this one. All the same, great and unusual name!

Margo
Margo from Paper Towns by John Green. Need I say more? Isn’t the name “John Green” synonymous with “never-ending amounts of awesomeness” by now? What? No? That’s not in your thesaurus? Well, they’re synonymous in my scrambled brain, and Margo is awesome by association. Plus, it’s a neat name.

Astrid
Astrid, the wild flapper from Bright Young Things. There’s also a girl named Astrid on one of my favorite TV shows, “Fringe,” and they’re both inspiring, entertaining, and absolutely lovable.

Honorable Mentions (the following are great characters but have names I’m not crazy about): Andi (Revolution), Alex (Revolution), Rhine (Wither), Francesca (Saving Francesca), Frankie (The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks), and Mia (If I Stay/Where She Went).

I would certainly read any posts similar to this one, should any of you decide to write one! If you do, let me know in the comments, and I’ll take a look. Happy Apocalypse!