Monday, October 26, 2015

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Friendships change when kids hit puberty and alliances shift quickly; that unsteady ground of middle school is the heart of this fantastic preteen novel.

The stories all converge, but it takes most of the book before it's all clear: Bridge can't really explain why she's wearing cat ears every day, except that it's comforting, somehow. Emily's got a new texting buddy who wants pictures - but, of what? His grandfather moved out, and Sherm isn't ready to forgive that abandonment. An unnamed high school girl ditches school to spend some time alone and instead she makes a new friend. Jamie's killing himself trying to win strange contests with a "frenemy" determined to crush him.

Kids will recognize themselves and others in the characters and situations here - heck, I'm a grownup and it's not unfamiliar territory for me, either! I love that it's not all bound up in a bow, but there are real consequences and concerns throughout the novel.

I will highly recommend this for middle schoolers and high school freshman everywhere. No one's immune the slings and arrows of puberty, but how you deal with it can make or break you.

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