Monday, January 4, 2016

image taken from Title Peek
I’m honestly surprised that I enjoyed Goodbye Stranger by Stead, only because realistic fiction isn’t my thing.  But I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It wasn’t cheesy, it wasn’t forced, and it was believable.  

Set in New York City, the story is about a neighborhood middle school and the people who attend it.  The story unfolds and you learn about each character’s contribution to a bullying situation, a possible first love, a bad bet, a strong friendship, and all sprinkled with a dose of feminism and human rights.

Stead’s book was filled with strong girl characters.  It felt very relative to 2015; there were texts sent and posts and pictures posted.  Despite being in huge NYC, the neighborhood felt like a small tight community filled with people who genuinely knew and cared for each other.  There were some touching yet simple moments in the story: Sherm’s grandmother making him breakfast, neighbors at the hospital after an accident, and Bridge’s mom telling her “Your body is yours…” - they all brought tears to my eyes.  

The story isn’t wrapped up until the very end, and I think the real situations in the book will keep the readers’ interest, though the point of view of an unknown narrator may take some careful reading.  Initially I thought the book was labeled YA, but it’s not.  Our 6th graders would love it and find many connections to their own lives.