Review: Goodbye Stranger

goodbyestrangerGoodbye Stranger is about 7th grade, and those of you who work with middle school students are probably well aware of the challenges kids that age are facing, and this book covers several of them, including changing friendships, changing families, potential first romances, and navigating social media. The result is a sensitive and nuanced look at relationships and growing up.

Bridget Barsamian starts a new school year wearing a headband with cat ears. She doesn’t know why exactly. It just feels right to wear the cat ears every day. Her friends think it’s weird, but a lot of things are weird with her two best friends this year. The three of them have always had one rule: No fighting. But this year that rule is getting harder and harder to follow. Tab and Emily are turning into different people. Tab is all about feminism and social justice causes while Emily just wants to talk about boys. Bridget doesn’t want to take sides, but when Emily starts taking bigger and bigger risks for the guy she likes, Tab doesn’t approve and Bridget feels forced to figure out what she thinks.

As you probably know, there has been a lot of buzz around this book (five starred reviews), and I have to admit that I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype for me. But with the diverse cast of well developed characters and the thoughtful look at real issues, I thought it was every bit as good as all the reviews and word of mouth had led me to believe it would be. Highly recommended to middle or high school readers, as well as to parents and educators who want to understand more about growing up in the era of smartphones and social media is like.

Mackin PicksGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead. 9780375990984. August 2015. Gr. 6-9


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