An online professional portfolio
Here’s my review from Goodreads:
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
“What Happened to Goodbye” (2011) is the latest teen chick-lit/romance tome from perennial favorite, Sarah Dessen, who remarkably manages to write the exact same book over and over again and still attract and satisfy readers. Her books have been NYT Best Sellers multiple times, and her first books, which were written while she was still in college or soon after– “Someone Like You” and “That Summer”– were turned into the bubblegum teen movie “How To Deal” back in 2003, starring Mandy Moore.
All of this is to say that Dessen’s work hits a nerve.
The universe where her books are set– southern, basketball obsessed beach towns, restaurants, high schools, and malls– are parallel to our own world, with familiar analogs that ring true: from the Starbucks-like coffee shop chain, to brand-name clothes and bags, to her invented Facebook counterpart, “Ume.com.” Her characters’ dialog sounds real, and their conflicts, while hardly earth-shattering, are true-to-life, so long as your life was white, upper middle class, suburban, and educated. She writes this niche very well, with flashes of real empathy, some lovely sentences (despite her perpetual misuse of participial phrases, a massive grammatical/concision flaw that is alarmingly common among many writers), and satisfying endings that wrap up every single loose end and usually maneuver the narrator (always an oddly-named girl) into the arms of an interesting boy.
The books are funny, fast, familiar, and satisfying, and you probably won’t remember much about them after you close the book.
“What Happened to Goodbye” was a bit disappointing, though. Mclean as a narrator seemed disjointed and flat, not confused and frustrated, as I expected her to be. The love interest between her and her neighbor, Dave, wasn’t really part of the story, despite early chemistry and a lot of potential; most of the supporting characters (some more interesting than Mclean) seemed like they would be important to Mclean’s development and the ultimate resolution, but were abandoned for several (long) chapters in the middle of the book, only to be picked up again near the end, as though Dessen forgot about how they fit into the plot. The middle of “What Happened…” is a slog, and the central conflict Mclean has with her divorced parents doesn’t make much sense, nor does the pat resolution at the end, which seems rushed and doesn’t have the satisfying no-loose-strings punch of her other books. Not terrible, just not what I expected from Dessen, whose success, it seems to me, depends on delivering what readers expect.