Summary and book reviews of Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Goodbye Stranger

by Rebecca Stead

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2015, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2017, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

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About this Book

Book Summary

Winner of the 2015 BookBrowse Award for Best Young Adult Novel

This brilliant novel by Newbery Medal winner Rebecca Stead explores multiple perspectives on the bonds and limits of friendship.

Bridge is an accident survivor who's wondering why she's still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody's games - or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade?

This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl—as a friend? 

On Valentine's Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight?

Each memorable character navigates the challenges of love and change in this captivating novel.

Prologue

When she was eight years old, Bridget Barsamian woke up in a hospital, where a doctor told her she shouldn't be alive. It's possible that he was complimenting her heart's determination to keep pumping when half her blood was still uptown on 114th Street, but more likely he was scolding her for roller-skating into traffic the way she had.

Despite what it looked like, she had been paying attention—she saw the red light ahead, and the cars. She merely failed to realize how quickly she was approaching them. Her skates had a way of making her feel powerful and relaxed, and it was easy to lose track of her speed.

When she was eight, Bridget loved two things: Charlie Chaplin and VW Bugs. She practiced her Chaplin moves whenever she could—his funny duck walk and the casually choppy way he zoomed around on his skates, arms straight down, legs swinging.

Her interest in Volkswagen Bugs was less aesthetic. Whenever she saw one, she shouted, "bug-buggy, ZOO-...

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    BookBrowse Awards
    2015

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Stead also writes convincingly from the points of view of both male and female characters – Bridge and Sherm share a vulnerability, introspection, and kindness that will win over all kinds of readers. Goodbye Stranger is a winsome, at times outright funny, book that also offers serious messages about loyalty, independence, and the preciousness of friendships new and old.   (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).

Full Review (559 words).

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Media Reviews

The New York Times Book Review

This novel not only sensitively explores togetherness, aloneness, betrayal and love, it also acknowledges something crucial to the business of growing up.

VOYA

Though the complex narrative threads may be challenging for some to navigate, this eloquent story of friendship, first love, and identity will resonate powerfully with readers.

Children's Literature

Newbery winner Stead masterfully avoids all the pitfalls common in tales of friendships between middle school girls . . . This examination of love, loyalty, and friendship explores the differences between each girl’s self-perception and what the world—parents, teachers, and classmates—know of them. Clearly aimed at middle school readers.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This memorable story about female friendships, silly bets, different kinds of love, and bad decisions is authentic in detail and emotion - another Stead hallmark.

Booklist

Starred Review. Winsome, bighearted, and altogether rewarding.

School Library Journal

Starred Review. Stead's writing [is]… filled with humor, delightful coincidences… An immensely satisfying addition for Stead's many fans.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review.... [Stead] captures the stomach-churning moments of a misstep or an unplanned betrayal and reworks these events with grace, humor, and polish into possibilities for kindness and redemption. Superb.

The Horn Book

Starred Review.The handing-down of advice and wisdom from older girls and women is a welcome theme throughout the book and far too rare in female coming-of-age stories; it's just one of many reasons this astonishingly profound novel is not your average middle-school friendship tale.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Young Adult Literature Set in the Big Apple

A lot of books for children and young adults are set in suburbia - but some truly memorable examples of the genre are set in cities, especially (like Goodbye Stranger) in Manhattan. Here are just a handful of the many classic and contemporary novels for young people set in the Big Apple. Whether your family already lives there or you just have plans to visit New York, you can spend whole days tracing the fictional footsteps of these memorable characters. If you decide to do just that, pick up a copy of Leonard Marcus's Storied City from your library (sadly, it's out of print) - it's a series of walking tours of the city that point out memorable locales from picture books and children's novels.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. FrankweilerFrom the Mixed-Up Files ...

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