First sentence: “When she was eight years old, Bridge Barsamian woke up in a hospital, where a doctor told her she shouldn’t be alive.”
How do I begin to describe the cuteness and wonderfulness of Goodbye Stranger with its beautiful friendships and discussions about life, betrayals, forgiveness, and inequality? It’s a book that needs to be read by everyone! Everyone!
Goodbye Stranger follows:
- Bridge Barsamian, an accident survivor who’s trying to figure out her purpose for being alive; Emily, a rising popular girl, who has developed new curves and gains the attention of an eighth grade boy; and Tabitha Patel, a know-it-all who repeats the feminist teachings of her English teacher;
- Sherm Russo, a boy in Bridge’s class who’s dealing with the loss of his grandfather in epistolary format;
- and an unnamed fourteen year old, who skips school to avoid a betrayal that’s written in the first person set on Valentine’s Day.
I’ve fallen madly in love with this book, and you will too.
WHY YOU NEED TO READ GOODBYE STRANGER
The friendship in this book is everything you ever wanted.
Rebecca Stead does a beautiful job capturing every facet of friendships—both the good (where it’s strong and supportive) and the bad (where it’s based on cattiness and humiliation).
You have Bridge, Emily, and Tab, who arethe embodiment of the best kind of friendship you’d want for yourself. These girls made a pact to never fight, and of course, they break their #1 rule, but it’s okay. They make mistakes, but they still stand up for each other. Their friendship is strong enough to withstand anything, especially because of how they resolve their fights, which is exceptionally profound and effective. I got extremely emotional because they’d nip any confusion or thoughts of “are we not friends” in the bud after a fight with text messages of “I might be mad but I love you.” Isn’t that so adorable and awesome? These girls will always be there for each other no matter how angry they are. They know how to friendship.
You also have Sherm and Bridge’s friendship, which was incredibly cute to watch unfold. They both needed someone who will be there for them as they try to deal with the issues that plague their minds, and they found it in each other. Friendship is an amazing thing.
Not all friendships will be sweet though. Take the unnamed teenage girl and Jamie (Bridge’s older brother), respectively. They both have friendships with people that isn’t based on goodness and supportiveness. It’s a friendship that has become mean and based on rivalry. That’s not how a good friendship should be.
You get all types of friendships from Goodbye Stranger, and they were portrayed with honesty and rawness that made me emotional. They’re ones you’ll experience in your lifetime.
All these characters have to say goodbye to relationships that just doesn’t work anymore.
We’re all familiar with this. We experience relationships that have become toxic, and although we should cut our losses, it’s hard to let go of that familiarity and that nostalgia for the good times. Some of the characters in Goodbye Stranger are experiencing this, and ask themselves, “can you go back to the good old days even though the person is no longer who they were?” However, there’s no clear-cut answer. I love seeing these characters dealing with their conflicting feelings for their loved one as well as struggling to accept the person their loved one has become and let them go. It’s tough and heartbreaking, and it’ll continue to hurt no matter what. It’s an important lesson that never gets easier, but it’s something that everybody encounters.
Stead does a great job of telling three interconnecting stories in different types of narratives.
Each narrative point of view are woven together so perfectly.
You have third person point of view for Bridge, epistolary for Sherm, and second point of view for the unnamed teenager. I had no problem devouring all these narratives, especially the second POV. You’d think it wouldn’t work well because second POVs are usually awkward and distracts you from the other narratives, but in Goodbye Stranger, it works wonderfully! You’re put into her shoes, and I enjoyed it! It was such a trip because I was that girl once upon a time.
While Bridge’s and Sherm’s stories took place during half of the school year, the unnamed teenager’s story took place in a single day—Valentine’s Day. I love seeing how all the narratives converged and culminated on this very important day. This special day serves a significance for these characters, and seeing how the events played out was marvelous.
- It discusses issues that teenagers would be facing like body shaming, personal identity, and feminism.
It’s middle school—a time for changes for these soon-to-be teenagers. It’s a time when they’re carving an identity for themselves and are faced with issues they had never dealt with before. Goodbye Stranger creates a starting dialogue for those issues. You see these characters dealing with friendships (specifically how friends treat each other), boys, body shaming, the power of technology, feminism, questions about purpose in life, forgiveness, and other serious, but important topics. It’s a wonderful discussion that really makes you think about what pre-teens and teenagers are faced with and worry about.
It ponders about the meaning and purpose of life.
Are you put onto this world for a greater purpose? This is a question that Bridge struggles with ever since the accident that nearly killed her when she was younger. She was told by a nurse that she was put on this Earth for a reason, but what is that reason? The moments when Bridge ponders about why she’s still alive is so profound and a great message that will speak to everyone.
Every kid, teen, adult, parent, grandparents need to read Goodbye Stranger. Stead captures both the beauty and the ugliness of friendships—it’s so delightful and so frickin’ wonderful. I cannot stress about the friendships and how incredibly emotional I got because that’s the type I love to read about—ones that make me reflect on my own friendships. It doesn’t focus on those petty fights or the backstabbing or the absentee best friends that you usually read in books. Not only do you get a huge dosage of friendships, Goodbye Stranger gives you wonderful discussions about life, betrayals, body shaming, and so much more. This book will be the single most important Middle Grade you’ll ever read in your life.
I’m gonna say this again—Goodbye Stranger needs to be in your hands right now. I’d personally put a copy in your hands if I could.