(Read this via Netgalley. Comes out in August. Cover image taken from Amazon.com.)
I love Rebecca Stead. I love how her novels manage to capture the complexity of being a kid without dumbing things down or ramping up the drama. They just feel real in a way that a lot of middle-grade realistic fiction doesn’t.
There’s a lot going on in Goodbye Stranger plotwise–friendship drama, crushes and first love, family problems, a sexting situation (handled fabulously, I think–if you are going to write about sexting for a middle school audience, you need to take great care, and Stead does), a mysterious high school character who is hiding out for the day for unknown reasons. Yet, for all that’s going on, it’s a quiet, reflective book. It flows smoothly. I felt like I entered a world when I started reading, and it wasn’t a world of high drama–it was just a world like I imagine my own child (of similar age as the characters) must live in. Confusing, funny, sad, interesting, and ultimately defined by love.
I highly recommend this one. In my imagination, the perfect reader is a 13-year-old, boy or girl, who could stand to feel a bit less lonely in the chaos of being 13.