Saturday, December 24, 2016

"Goodbye Stranger" by Rebecca Stead

Image result for goodbye stranger rebecca steadPublished by Wendy Lamb
Released on August 5, 2015


After surviving an accident that nearly killed her, Bridge wonders what her purpose in life is.  She and her two best friends have sworn never to fight, but boy problems are making it a difficult oath to uphold.

Sherm Russo is angry at his grandfather for leaving.  He refuses to answer any of his grandpa's texts, but he misses him just the same.

A teenage girl, narrating in the second person, worries her mom to death by taking a "mental-health day."  In other words, skips school without letting anyone know.  She thinks about her own friendship problems and meets Adrienne, the weird but friendly girl behind the Bean Bar counter.

INGREDIENTS:  the Apollo 11 moon landing, cinnamon toast, the apocalypse game, and Hermey the elf

MAIN CHARACTER:  I love Bridge.  Her friendship with Tab and Em is so firm, her perhaps-more-than-friends friendship with Sherm is so adorable, and her attachment to that cat-eared headband is unique.  She has a sense of humor and can discern fairly well between what's okay and what isn't - more than her friend Em, at least.  And her near-death experience only makes her more special.

THEMES:  Goodbye Stranger explored the important topics of friendship, family, and the meaning of life.  There was a lot of depth to this novel, and it had a strangely satisfying solemnity to it.  Rebecca Stead includes plenty of humor, but overall it was a serious book that tried to answer some serious questions about life.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:  Oh, dear.  There was some bad stuff in this one.  To give you a general idea, an inappropriate picture got sent and then shared to about a dozen other people in the school and... yeah, it was chaotic.  You'll also come across two bad words.

WHAT I LOVED:  In this case, it's more who I loved.  The answer: Sherm Russo.  And I'm not just saying this because I don't feel like racking my brain for the real "why," but there's nothing that special about him.  He's just adorable, and that's all I know.  At one point he interrupted a kickball game to fetch a football, and as he was passing Bridge, he called out, "I feel so vulnerable right now!"  Earlier that day, a teacher had made them stand on the stage in the auditorium without squinting from the light, saying that he wanted them to feel vulnerable.  It's not that funny when I think about it, but because it was Sherm, it was great.  And then during an intruder drill, he was sitting against the wall next to Bridge.  Randomly, he whispered, "What did you have for breakfast?"  Oh, I can hardly stand the cuteness!  If for nothing else, read it for Sherm!

What I also really enjoyed was Bridge and her brother's little game.  They both love the Rudolph Christmas special (you know, the old Claymation one), so whenever it's appropriate, they quote conversations from it.  Since I've seen Rudolph so many times and love it as much as them, I recognized every single one of these fun conversations.

RECOMMENDED:  For those who enjoy...
                                 1) books with lots of individual quotes that you'll never forget
                                 2) cyberbullying themes
                                 3) a mysterious POV that doesn't seem related to the main story

And since tomorrow is Christmas... Happy Holidays, dear reader!     

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