Sunday, 13 November 2016

Goodbye Stranger - Rebecca Stead

Goodbye Stranger - Rebecca Stead

Goodbye Stranger - Rebecca Stead
Goodbye Stranger has Rebecca’s Steads trademark wonky charm and many layered mysteries but there’s also a sharper and faintly more sinister edge that is reminiscent of Annabel’s Pitcher’s Ketchup Clouds.

Goodbye Stranger is a story about growing up, growing apart and having to sometimes say goodbye to things and people that held a very special place in your heart.  But, thankfully, it’s also all about saying hello to new things even if navigating your way around them is sometimes a confounding mystery, as many of the characters discover.

What do you do when life is suddenly thrown out of its usual balance, like when new body forms pitch up, or first love (hey, is it even…?), when good friends turn bad and, oh-oh, new social etiquette (oh yeah, even trickier when social media plays its hand). A contemplative issue colouring the novel surrounds ‘whose body is it anyway’.

Leading you through all this is loveable Bridge, a seventh grader (that makes her about 12?) who wears cat ears to school and had her heart restarted three times when she was eight. She’s searching for the reason that she has been put on earth (nothing too challenging, hey?). 

Interspersed, with Bridge’s story (told in the third person), is an older character’s thread told in the second person: You, is a high school fresher, and she’s cutting school on Valentine’s Day, but who is she and what is going on? And then, there’s also an epistolary thread written by maths-loving Sherm to his grandfather whom he misses.

Among the weaving mysteries, you’ll also find parallel universes, space travel, mathematics, superheroes, a tech crew and trendy neighbourhood coffee bars serving cinnamon toast. And come the end, all the threads are sitting very nicely together.  Yes, Goodbye Stranger is so Rebecca Stead!

(A whispered aside: Pleasingly, there are also adult characters who are not aliens. Yes, they do exist and they frequent Rebecca Stead’s novels. In my edition, on page 102, there’s an absolutely gorgeous parent scene and the teens are left just hanging for a teeny, wee while.)

Goodbye Stranger has been nominated for the 2017 Carnegie Medal.

If you've never read anything by Rebecca Stead, definitely check out When You Reach Me or Liar & Spy.

Publication details: Andersen Press, 2015, London, hardback

This copy: review copy from the publisher

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