Rebecca Stead never disappoints. I loved When You Reach Me and Liar & Spy. Her new middle grade novel, Goodbye Stranger is outstanding! Bridge is an accident survivor. The story follows her now that her physical recovery from being hit by a car is over. She has taken to wearing cat ears all of the time which her friends find odd but they go with it. Emily and Tabitha are new two best friends. She has a new friend, Sherm. It is fun to watch their relationship blossom from platonic to possibly something more. Stead weaves a second story with an unnamed character who is struggling with something that she did. As I read her story, I felt her pain. I was especially moved when this girl asked herself, “Who’s the real you? The person who did something awful, or the one who’s horrified by the awful thing that you did? Is one part of you allowed to forgive the other?” Emily deals with a texting situation with a boy that gets out of hand. This is the kind of book where you miss the characters when it is finished. I can’t wait for it to come out in August so I can start handing it to people.
Some ideas for discussing with teens.
Discuss how friendships “grow stronger, like a rope thickened little by little.” Why do you think Bridge keeps on wearing the cat ears? What creature would you choose to draw on your homework. Discuss how the girls outgrew that. What things have you outgrown that you thought were cool when you were younger? Discuss what is said about Vinny and how hard it is to walk away from the mean girls. Talk about the moment she shares Gina’s secret and how she felt like two different people. Discuss how “everyone feels different on the inside. That doesn’t mean you have a secret mission.” Discuss “who’s the real you? The person who did something awful, or the one who’s horrified by the awful thing that you did? Is one part of you allowed to forgive the other?