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Sarah Dessen is young adult author royalty with numerous awards and a best-selling streak. She is known for creating authentic characters in various family predicaments and on journeys of self-discovery. What Happened to Goodbye follows this formula while managing to be fresh and moving.

Dessen’s newest teen protagonist, Mclean, is ready to start over yet again. After her parents’ messy divorce, she chose to live with her father who has a consulting job for failing restaurants. For two years, she’s moved every few months, becoming a new person in every new town. When she arrives in Lakeview (a familiar town for Dessen fans), she must decide who she wants to be and how she’s going to handle her estranged mother.

New narrator Meredith Hagner, a former soap opera star, performs the book like a conversation and nails the dialogue with convincing teen inflections and fast pace. While Hagner’s rapid fire dialogue works well, her fast performance of the expository narration makes it hard to follow and enjoy Dessen’s sharp writing. In the latter half of the novel, she settles into a better rhythm and gives a strong performance.

Sarah Dessen consistently captures the angst of high school and family dynamics. Usually there’s a romance angle, and What Happens to Goodbye has Mclean dancing around a perceptive and smart boy next door, Dave Wade. Some Dessen devotees might be disappointed that there’s less of a love story in this book than some of her previous novels. There is more emphasis on other secondary characters though, an interesting assortment of teens with their own challenges.

What Happened to Goodbye is a great choice for female young adult readers, both avid and reluctant. It’s an engaging and satisfying listen, perfect for road trips and book groups. Meredith Hagner has a promising start as a narrator and Dessen adds to her excellent body of work. —Julie MacDonald

Publisher's Summary

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 her neighbor Dave, an academic superstar trying to be just a regular guy, can help her find out. Combining Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

©2011 Sarah Dessen (P)2011 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about What Happened to Goodbye

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Melodi
  • 03-12-12

Be Prepared for a Great Book!

I really enjoyed listening to 'What Happened to Goodbye' by Sarah Dessen. It's the type of of story I'm always on the hunt for. It really expresses a lot of what every teenage girl goes through! A young girl who is trying to find her place in the world. I recommended this book to all my friends and I hope they read it because they will be seriously missing out!

And Meredith Hagner is a pretty good narrator, she just needs to put more personality into her characters. Give them more life! And if she decides to narrate another book, I will most definitely consider buying the audio; if the story line is good, of course!
-Mel-

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • MoxyIdeas
  • 27-05-11

One of her best!

I'm a big Sarah Dessen fan, but this might be my favorite yet. The narrator is perfect, really brings the characters to life AND has good comic timing! Highly recommended if you're looking for a good YA novel with great characters.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • szczurko
  • 06-01-21

love the book ( wanted whisper)

Wonderful book but hard to listen to audio for sleep. Wish would of been great. I do recommend book

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  • Tom
  • 10-11-20

Reader not right for me but...

Ms Dessen's tales improve for me every time I read/listen to one. I find her books captivating enough that I tend to revisit them several times. The only objection I had to this audio book was Ms Hagner's voice sounded too young for McLean. It was actually distracting at times but I pushed through those instances by concentrating on the "visual" at that point (which takes one out of the immersion into the book for that time). All things considered, it is a minor complaint & certainly not worth avoiding the book!

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Brutis
  • 01-08-20

No

Definitely a young adult book and maybe to someone of that age would like the narration and story but not me.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Courtney Sams
  • 03-06-19

Skip it & check out other books by Sarah Dessen

I have read several books by Sarah Dessen and usually enjoy them very much, but this was my least favorite. There was very little substance and I waited the whole book for something to happen and it just didnt. I suggest checking into her other books and skipping this one. I did however like the narrarator and that for me is a big deal when listening to an audiobook.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • A. Roque
  • 25-04-19

Ideal beach read!

I can't rave enough about the narration of Meredith Hagner. She made the book so much more pleasurable for me. I liked the characters a lot and the minor conflicts that happen. It's a light read and perfect at the beach. I recommend if you want a fun, quick read.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Iz
  • 06-08-18

TV Show

This story line is so much like a tv show. There isn’t a whole lot that happens and I wished that there was a little more excitement somewhere in the story. I kept waiting for an “oh my!” moment and it never came.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Belle
  • 14-04-18

Terrible Narrator

I love this story by Sarah Dessen, but the narrator almost ruins it completely. You can tell she doesn’t understand the main character by the way she uses inflection incorrectly and it takes you out of the story. She makes McLean sound like a valley girl...not even close.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-06-15

Identity Issues

Would you listen to What Happened to Goodbye again? Why?

Yes, it is a story of trying to find an identity when everything around you crumbles and your left trying to stay afloat but your pride is wearing you down.

Would you be willing to try another book from Sarah Dessen? Why or why not?

Yes, I think Sarah Dessen is a brilliant writer and has captured the essence of what it's like to be an awkward teenage girl struggling through the teen years.

Which scene was your favorite?

When everyone was in the attic trying to put together the giant model of the town and Debbie was making everyone read the giant packet of rules before they could start

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When Mclean ran off the the beach because that was the last place she felt like herself and her parents came and finally realized what they were doing to her and what she was doing to herself.