Goodbye, Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Published by Wendy Lamb Books

Summary: Bridge and her friends Tabitha and Emily have been best friends for years, having sworn a vow never to fight. Seventh grade tests that promise, as the girls begin to move in different directions, with Em swooning over a new crush, Tab becoming a human rights activist, and Bridge still trying to figure out why she got a second chance at life after surviving a car accident years before. The story, which begins with the new school year, is mostly told from Bridge’s point of view, interspersed with narratives from Sherm, Bridge’s new friend, who may or may not be a boyfriend. Then there are sections about a mysterious character, referred to in the second person, who is having a crisis on Valentine’s Day. Her story slowly unfolds over that single day as the rest of the story moves from September to the culmination on Valentine’s Day when all stories converge. Grades 6-9.

Pros: Rebecca Stead seamlessly blends many, many elements, large and small, into a fabulously satisfactory resolution. The middle school characters are so real you expect them to pass you on the sidewalk whenever you put down the book.

Cons: I really wanted to have this book in my elementary library, but I just can’t see a fifth grader appreciating it nearly as much as he/she would as a middle schooler. Also, can someone tell me why the title of this book is Goodbye, Stranger?

2 thoughts on “Goodbye, Stranger by Rebecca Stead

  1. I have been hearing a lot about this book. I was wondering if it would be good for a k-5 library, but was worried it might be more for middle school kids. Your review was very helpful- because it sounds like a good book, but maybe one that will be a better fit for middle school (since my budget is tight). Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to reading this one.

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    1. Yes, there’s a whole story line around a boy and a girl texting each other pictures of themselves in their underwear, so probably not so good for elementary. I think it would be a perfect seventh grade book.

      Like

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