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10 July 2015 GOODBYE STRANGER by Rebecca Stead, Random House/Wendy Lamb Books, August 2015, 304p., ISBN: 978-0-385-74317-4


“Well, I got a brand-new pair of roller skates

You got a brand-new key.

I think that we should get together

And try them out, you see.”

-- Melanie Safka (1972)


“What Emily had decided to do was take a picture of herself in her new jeans, with no shirt on.

‘But wearing a bra, which is basically the same as a bathing suit,’ she told Bridge. ‘And I’ll do one of those photo filters, so it’s kind of fuzzy? You know, artsy.’

‘Tell me again why you’re doing this?’ Bridge said. ‘One more time.’

‘What if my boyfriend asked for a picture of me in my bathing suit?’

‘I’d say he was creepy. Is Patrick even your boyfriend?’

‘You promised not to be judgy. People walk around the city in less than a bathing suit!’

‘I’m not being judgy,’ Bridge said. I’m being--asky.’

Em started brushing her hair out in front of the mirror.

‘We want to, like--show ourselves. Be real. Do things for each other we wouldn’t do for anyone else.’

‘Why don’t you just talk to each other? Isn’t that more real, more you, than a fuzzy picture of your bra?’”


Emily, Bridget, and Tabitha have been inseparable since they were little kids. They maintain their friendship through a promise of No Fighting. But in seventh grade, little cracks are appearing in their friendship. Em has matured physically and she’s attracting attention from older boys. Bridge is becoming friends with a boy, too, though she’s not clear what her new friendship with Sherm Russo means. Tab is a budding feminist who is, otherwise, not yet thinking about boys.


Do you remember playing Punch buggy; Rock-Paper-Scissors; Telephone; and Duck, Duck, Goose?


GOODBYE STRANGER is a coming-of-age tale set in New York City. It is framed in terms of the many games children play, the little dares and bets with which they challenge one another, and the groups they form. It’s about how these innocent games, dares, bets, and groupings evolve into far more mature diversions as kids grow up.


GOODBYE STRANGER is told in alternating chapters from three different points of view.


The primary story follows Bridget Barsamian, who’s an accident survivor. When Bridge was eight, on roller skates, she turned to call back to Tab and accidentally skated into traffic. She underwent multiple operations and rehab.


A second narrative is told through Sherm’s letters, written to his absent grandfather but never sent.


The holder of the third perspective is mysterious: a slightly older, unnamed character who is only one or two degrees of separation from Bridge, her family, and her friends.


The character development of the five primary characters--the three girlfriends, Sherm, and Bridge’s big brother Jamie--is superb. We can feel the discomfort resulting from the changes each of the three girls is undergoing. I love the growing relationship between Bridge and Sherm, two relatively innocent kids who just know how much they look forward to seeing one another. 


Holding hands and first kisses have been around for a long time. But plenty has changed in recent years. As today’s young people enter the grown-up world of texting, Facebook, and smart phones, it’s essential that kids watch out for one another because the games young people play can have irreversible consequences.


Filled with twists, surprises, and game-playing, GOODBYE STRANGER will be both captivating and instructive for tweens entering adolescence.


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Pickshttp://richiespicks.pbworks.com






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