Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
This book begins against the backdrop of middle school; the primary focus of which is three girls who are best of friends. The main character, Bridget, lives with her musician mother and coffee shop owner father in New York City. The story actually starts several years earlier, when Bridget miraculously survives being struck by a car as she skates through an intersection. The incident affected her significantly, as she then begins to view herself differently and wonders if there was a special reason why she survived.
Fast forward several years and Bridge (as she wanted to be called after the accident) along with her best friends, Tabitha and Emily, are trying to navigate the changes and challenges that come with seventh grade and their teen years. With the introduction of new friends (especially boys), the trio finds it’s not so easy to honor the friendship pact they made years earlier.
This book accurately portrays a lot of issues that face youth today, especially those walking the fine line between being a kid and a teenager. A variety of relevant topics are introduced such as friendship, peer pressure, sexting, shaming, bullying, and forgiveness. Many characters are intertwined and the descriptive nature of the writing is intricate and rich.
Although the majority of the book takes place in the third person, there are chapters written in second person that are set at a time that’s slightly ahead of the rest of the book. Eventually the two narratives do catch up with each other however this was initially confusing and took some getting used to. Ultimately though, this isn’t a major distraction from what was an interesting and believable read.
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