Friday, August 7, 2015

Book review - Goodbye Stranger

Title: Goodbye Stranger
Author: Rebecca Stead
Genre: realistic  fiction
Similar books: Hold Fast by Blue Balliett
                     Blue Gold by Elizabeth Stewart
pretty eye-opening

Summary: Bridge, Emily, and Tabitha have been best friends for years. It has always been easy for them to live by their one rule: no fighting. Now that they are starting seventh grade, though, they are developing different interests and being friends isn't so easy. Meanwhile, Sherm is trying to work through some family issues through letters to his grandfather and an anonymous high schooler is hiding out from parents and friend troubles.

My opinion: One subplot in this novel is likely to garner a great deal of attention, focusing as it does on questionable photographs and online privacy. Almost more importantly, it's about sexual politics and gender inequality even among middle schoolers. We see a situation where inappropriate photos are spread around of both a boy and a girl. The girl's reputation and self-esteem are obliterated. She sees reprisals in school and among her peers. The boy gets only sympathy and some mild disapproval. That entire sub-plot is a great topic for discussion with young readers. The other kids stories, while less controversial, are no less compelling. Speaking of all those stories, it takes a very skilled writer to juggle not only multiple plots and perspectives but also multiple formats and tenses. Stead is clearly up to the challenge, producing a complex but cohesive plot. It's not all heavy either. Light-hearted, sweet moments keep this from becoming too much of a brow-creaser. 
Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

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