Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Oh my word, this book, I absolutely loved it....like crying on the way to work while listening to the book kinda love.  Rebecca Stead captures those tween/teen years so perfectly.  I was tearing up both remembering my own (way back when) and that parental heartbreak knowing that your own kids have to experience some of the heartache that comes with life.  My favorite middle grade book of the year...I am calling it my "Wonder" of 2015.

From School Library Journal

Gr 6–9—Ah, seventh grade! A year when your friends transform inexplicably, your own body and emotions perplex you, and the world seems fraught with questions, and the most confusing ones of all concern the nature of love. Stead focuses on Bridge Barsamian, her best girlfriends, and her newest friend Sherm—a boy who is definitely not her boyfriend (probably). They're navigating the shoals of adolescence on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Emily has suddenly developed a figure that attracts a lot of attention, Tabitha is an increasingly committed human rights activist, and Bridge has taken to wearing a headband with black cat's ears for reasons that are unclear even to her. The seventh graders aren't the only characters working out relationships. There are married parents and divorced parents and then there's Sherm's grandfather who has suddenly left his wife of 50 years and moved to New Jersey. There's also a mysterious character whose Valentine's Day is doled out in second-person snippets interspersed within the rest of the story. Love is serious, but Stead's writing isn't ponderous. It's filled with humor, delightful coincidences, and the sorts of things (salacious cell phone photos, lunchroom politics, talent show auditions) that escalate in ways that can seem life-shattering to a 13-year-old. The author keeps all her balls in the air until she catches them safely with ineffable grace. VERDICT An immensely satisfying addition for Stead's many fans.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY

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