Monday, March 7, 2016

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead 289 pages

Rebecca Stead is one of my favorite authors of middle grade reading material and I'll tell you why.  She can work with various themes and make believable, touching stories and characters that pull you in and won't let go.  She has won the Newbery for When You Reach Me and I would love to see Goodbye, Stranger win any number of awards.  I was concerned that this book would be better housed in the teen area, because one of the characters is faced with a dilemma about whether to send a particular kind of photo to a boy at her school.  I read the book to determine if it was one that our younger audience would be okay with, without lots of negative feedback from parents and caregivers.  Truly, this was such a beautiful book.  It occasionally switches from character to character, but for the most part follows Bridge, a 7th grader who is navigating a new middle school world with her closest friends.  Unlike some of Stead's other works, this had no sci-fi subtext, no need for suspension of disbelief.  It was an honest look at children in that very difficult age range of nearly teen.  Every character was completely believable.  True to life, no one was completely one thing or another, there were no obvious bad guys, just people who made poor decisions sometimes.  I would recommend this to anyone.  Young people who want to be able to relate to characters in really meaningful ways, adults who want to understand the modern world and how it impacts young people.  It really gave me a lot of insight into what tweens are faced with and how amazing they are for being able to get through it all.  Yes, I began reading it to see if it belonged in the Children's collection, but I ended up not being able to put it down.

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