Author: Rebecca Stead
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Publication Date: August 4th, 2015
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: 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?
What I Think: I'm sure the characters in this book are going to be with me for a long time. I especially love how the girls go through some tough situations and how their relationship evolves throughout the story. I'm trying to put my finger on exactly what stands out to me about this story but the most I can come up with is that they seem so real and they also seem like friends I would have wanted to have in middle school. Actually, as a mentor text, that's what I would look at with Goodbye Stranger. I would ask students to think about all the everyday moments in this book but how Stead slows them down, captures them succinctly but accurately, and makes the reader feel like he or she is there with them. There's something so honest and down-to-earth about her description that it feels so real.
Another part of Stead's craft that I admire is her ability to thread together so many different storylines without losing the reader or spending time on irrelevant information. It reminds me of Jenny Han's To All The Boys I've Loved Before because every word is well-placed and critical to the story. I can definitely see this as a book for a mother-daughter book club or as a text to anchor a discussion around digital citizenship and making safe choices when using technology.
One of the storylines in Goodbye Stranger is told in second person. It was hard for me to get used to but I loved it at the same time. As a reader, it was so different to read about a character in this way. I could definitely identify with him/her but it was hard not actually truly knowing his or her name. Most of the time in school we tell students not to use the 2nd person but this is an example of when it works really well because the author did it intentionally and with a very specific purpose.
Read Together: Grades 6 - 8
Read Alone: Grades 6 - 10
Read With: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares, To All The Boys I've Loved Before (series) by Jenny Han, Drama by Raina Telgemeier, See You At Harry's by Jo Knowles
Snatch of Text:
"On the first day of October, Emily got a text from a boy asking for a picture.
'Same boy,' Em said. 'That eighth grader. His name is Patrick. Very cute, actually. And he plays soccer.' They were sitting against the fence after Emily's second win.
'A picture of what?' Tab asked, pulling at the dry grass. She was stirring up dust that made Bridge want to sneeze.
Emily laughed. 'It doesn't matter. I'm not doing it.'
'Send him a picture of your feet,' Bridge suggested.
And so Emily took a picture of her dirt-covered soccer cleats and texted it to Patrick.
Ten seconds later, he texted Emily a picture of his sneakers.
'Ha,' Emily said, shoving her phone into her bag. 'He thinks he's funny.'" (p. 19)
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you felt like a friend was making a bad decision and you wanted to help him or her. What did you do? Would you have done anything differently?
Topics Covered: Family, Friendships, Loyalty, Relationships, Integration - Technology, Decision Making, Courage
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