Goodbye Stranger

by Rebecca Stead

Hardcover, 2015

Call number

JF STE

Publication

Wendy Lamb Books (2015), 304 pages

Description

As Bridge makes her way through seventh grade on Manhattan's Upper West Side with her best friends, curvacious Em, crusader Tab, and a curious new friend--or more than friend--Sherm, she finds the answer she has been seeking since she barely survived an accident at age eight: "What is my purpose?"

User reviews

LibraryThing member lawral
Rebecca Stead is a master of laying stories upon stories. Goodbye Stranger follows Bridge as she and her 2 best friends navigate middle school and life with boys for the first time. Emily suddenly has attention from boys and encouragement from her soccer teammates to flirt. Tab is caught up in the
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throes and fervor of new-found feminism. And Bridge herself is making a new friend, Sherm, who is a boy. Whether he is more than a friend is murky territory. They are all at such different points in their middle school-ness, and though it seems like this should be the point when they break apart and become separate people (they are separate people, but they are also part of a set), they fight for each other and for their friendship. Sherm tells a bit of his own story in the form of letters to his absent grandfather, and the third storyline is a wonderfully executed second person narrative that takes place entirely on Valentine's Day, the culmination date of the other 2 storylines. This book is all about the relationships the characters form, lose, and observe. The friendships in this book, between Bridge, Emily, and Tabitha, between Bridge and Sherm, between "you" and Vinny, between Jaimie (Bridge's brother) and Alex (his frenemy), between Tab and Celeste, even between Emily and Patrick are the meat of the story and the big "what this book is about." So many different kinds of relationships! So many ways that people depend on and grow through the people around them. It's touching without being sentimental. And Bridge and Sherm are butterfly inducing the whole way through. I highly recommend Goodbye Stranger. It is solidly middle grade, but it will hold up well with some spread in the reading age.

Book source: Netgalley
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LibraryThing member detailmuse
I enjoyed Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me for its science-y premise and its complex narrative structure. In this new novel, also for tween readers, Stead keeps the complex structure (chapters told in alternating points of view, including one in epistolary format and another where the character
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isn’t identified until the end), but trades science for the relationships of 7th-graders (family, friends, even budding romance). It’s an enjoyable read that, despite exploring a couple areas of deep water (sexting; grandparent divorce), stays steady and optimistic.

(Review based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher.)
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LibraryThing member EdGoldberg
Rebecca Stead, author of When You Reach Me, Liar & Spy and First Light has penned another thoroughly enjoyable middle grade book in WhenYouReachMeGoodbye Stranger.

When Bridget Barsamian was eight years old, she got hit by a car. Skating down the Manhattan street ahead of her friend Tabitha, she
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turned to look back, and when she turned back she realized that a car was coming through the cross street and it was unavoidable that she and the car were about to meet. One year and four surgeries later, Bridget was as good as new, but she had changed. Every now and then when she saw a car coming she froze. Also, she no longer felt like a Bridget and shortened her name to Bridge. Lastly, when she was discharged from the hospital, a nurse told her “…You must have been put on this earth for a reason, little girl, to have survived.” The question that was stumping her, though, is what is that reason?

Bridge missed third grade but when sheFirstLight returned the following year for fourth grade, Tab introduced her to Emily and the threesome became the ‘set of three’ among the entire fourth grade class, a set that would remain in tact through seventh grade.

Fast forward to the third Monday of seventh grade. For some unknown reason, Bridge wore a pair of black cat ears to school. While at first they felt odd, by Wednesday they became part of her ensemble. It is this year that is recounted in Goodbye Stranger. The book deals with some issues prevalent in the lives of today’s kids. While it follows the seventh grade escapades of Bridge, Tab and Emily, some of which are fun, it also delves into serious issues. It is during seventh grade that boys become a part of their lives when Bridge meets Sherm and Emily meets Patrick. Each must deal with the complicated feelings that surround boys; a boy–friend vs. a boyfriend. Another major story line recounts Sherm’s reaction when his grandfather leaves his wife of 50 years for another woman. Both lived with Sherm and the one moving out creates quite a hole in his life.

LiarAndSpyThe book also follows an anonymous person on Valentine’s Day (which is the title of each chapter dealing with her disillusionment) as she recounts the events leading up to it, her realization that some people are just downright mean and most likely not someone you want to be friends with, regardless of the fact that you are drawn to them.

The convergence of Bridge and Anonymous came as a surprise to me, although my daughter figured it out.

Goodbye Stranger is certainly a ‘coming of age’ story in that the girls must understand their feelings about friendship and love. They must also deal with a situation that they both know is wrong, but weigh friendship against rightness.

Rebecca Stead has populated Goodbye Stranger with some spectacular characters primarily Adrienne, the barista (would be boxer) in Bridge’s dad’s coffee bar, Celeste, Tab’s older sister, and Anonymous.

My one criticism? One significant issue, while handled realistically (probably/possibly), seemed to be minimized…in my mind anyway. Despite that, Goodbye Stranger is a fun read. Some authors write the same book over and over and then others, like Rebecca Stead, keep reinventing themselves, which only increases the anticipation for the next book as soon as you’ve finished the current one.
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LibraryThing member EdGoldberg
Rebecca Stead, author of When You Reach Me, Liar & Spy and First Light has penned another thoroughly enjoyable middle grade book in WhenYouReachMeGoodbye Stranger.

When Bridget Barsamian was eight years old, she got hit by a car. Skating down the Manhattan street ahead of her friend Tabitha, she
Show More
turned to look back, and when she turned back she realized that a car was coming through the cross street and it was unavoidable that she and the car were about to meet. One year and four surgeries later, Bridget was as good as new, but she had changed. Every now and then when she saw a car coming she froze. Also, she no longer felt like a Bridget and shortened her name to Bridge. Lastly, when she was discharged from the hospital, a nurse told her “…You must have been put on this earth for a reason, little girl, to have survived.” The question that was stumping her, though, is what is that reason?

Bridge missed third grade but when sheFirstLight returned the following year for fourth grade, Tab introduced her to Emily and the threesome became the ‘set of three’ among the entire fourth grade class, a set that would remain in tact through seventh grade.

Fast forward to the third Monday of seventh grade. For some unknown reason, Bridge wore a pair of black cat ears to school. While at first they felt odd, by Wednesday they became part of her ensemble. It is this year that is recounted in Goodbye Stranger. The book deals with some issues prevalent in the lives of today’s kids. While it follows the seventh grade escapades of Bridge, Tab and Emily, some of which are fun, it also delves into serious issues. It is during seventh grade that boys become a part of their lives when Bridge meets Sherm and Emily meets Patrick. Each must deal with the complicated feelings that surround boys; a boy–friend vs. a boyfriend. Another major story line recounts Sherm’s reaction when his grandfather leaves his wife of 50 years for another woman. Both lived with Sherm and the one moving out creates quite a hole in his life.

LiarAndSpyThe book also follows an anonymous person on Valentine’s Day (which is the title of each chapter dealing with her disillusionment) as she recounts the events leading up to it, her realization that some people are just downright mean and most likely not someone you want to be friends with, regardless of the fact that you are drawn to them.

The convergence of Bridge and Anonymous came as a surprise to me, although my daughter figured it out.

Goodbye Stranger is certainly a ‘coming of age’ story in that the girls must understand their feelings about friendship and love. They must also deal with a situation that they both know is wrong, but weigh friendship against rightness.

Rebecca Stead has populated Goodbye Stranger with some spectacular characters primarily Adrienne, the barista (would be boxer) in Bridge’s dad’s coffee bar, Celeste, Tab’s older sister, and Anonymous.

My one criticism? One significant issue, while handled realistically (probably/possibly), seemed to be minimized…in my mind anyway. Despite that, Goodbye Stranger is a fun read. Some authors write the same book over and over and then others, like Rebecca Stead, keep reinventing themselves, which only increases the anticipation for the next book as soon as you’ve finished the current one.
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LibraryThing member nbmars
This story of seventh grade best friends alternates among several narrators, one of whom is unnamed, all struggling with situations at home; the pressures of peers; dissonance from growing up at different rates; and the need to figure out the boundaries of trust and loyalty and love.

Bridget
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(“Bridge”) Barsamian is the main narrator; her best friends are Tab (Tabitha), Em (Emily), and later Sherm Russo. Bridge was in a traumatic accident when she was eight, about which she still has nightmares. At the time, the doctor told her it was a miracle she was still alive, and a nurse said to her:

"Thirteen broken bones and a punctured lung. You must have been put on this earth for a reason, little girl, to have survived.”

Bridge has pondered what this purpose might be ever since. She hasn’t really talked about it to her family though, not even to Jamie, her older brother, who is in many ways the most entertaining and interesting character of the book even though he is a “supporting actor.”

As the school year begins, Bridge brings into their threesome a fourth friend, Sherm Russo. Sherm is dealing with the unexpected divorce, after fifty years, of his grandparents, and is having difficulty forgiving his grandfather.

Tab’s older sister Celeste also plays a role in the story, acting as sort of a mentor to the girls, helping them navigate the shoals of middle school.

Emily started seventh grade with a “body.” She was now the object of attention of boys, and it threatens to come between her and the others. One boy in particular, Patrick, whom Emily met in the “Banana Splits Club” for kids with divorced parents, has been encouraging Emily to exchange phone photos of increasingly revealing body parts. The other girls are upset, but can’t seem to convince Emily this is not a harmless activity.

Meanwhile, Tab and Em keep asking Bridge if she “loves” Sherm, but Bridge isn’t sure what love is. She sees indications of it all around her though. Her mom told her that love was a kind of music, and that one day, you could just suddenly hear it. Bridge also thinks about love when she watches Tab’s parents, who celebrate Karva Chauth, during which Hindu women fast all day until they see the moon to show their devotion to their husbands. Tab rejects such ideas as antifeminist, having been influenced by her English teacher Mrs. Berman, who has her students call her Mrs. Berperson. But when Tab’s parents take Bridge and Tab along to find the moon, and Bridge observes how they treat one another, she thinks that must be love, too.

Finally, after some traumatic developments shake up the school, Bridge has an epiphany; she knows why she was put on earth, simultaneously realizing what love is.

Evaluation: Newbery Medal winner Stead combines sensitivity with compassion for her characters to weave into the story a number of issues that face today’s kids in school. She also shows how decisions have consequences, and how important it is to try to face those consequences and deal with them in the most “adult” way possible. While the issues raised are serious, they are kept on a “middle grade” level without diminishing the importance of what is happening with the kids. I think this would be a very valuable story for middle graders and could generate some excellent discussions.
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LibraryThing member foggidawn
Bridget, Tabitha, and Emily have been best friends forever, but middle school will try their friendship in new ways. Bridge has made a new friend, Sherm. She doesn't think she's in love with him, but is it possible to fall in friendship just as powerfully as you fall in love? Tab has discovered
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feminism, thanks to an inspirational teacher, but she's about to be reminded that she still doesn't know everything. And Em has developed a figure that is getting attention from boys -- including a certain boy, who wants her to send him a certain kind of photo. Meanwhile, in another story line, an unnamed high school girl deals with betrayal and disillusionment in her own friendships.

This book is a really excellent middle-school book, which is actually comparatively rare. The characters act in ways consistent with actual middle-schoolers, and deal with issues that face middle-schoolers, and while the issues are addressed frankly, they never venture out of the middle-school realm. And of course, since it's Rebecca Stead, the writing is generally excellent and the characters are distinct and develop over the course of the story. Recommended to both the target audience and to anyone who enjoys well-written juvenile fiction.
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LibraryThing member brangwinn
This is my favorite Rebecca Stead book. It should resonate with anyone who has been in 7th grade, where life is changing and you don’t understand the rules. It’s about mean girls, about sharing “selfies” that you shouldn’t. It’s about finding a boy as a friend, before he becomes a
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boyfriend. It’s about stupid dares and finding out what really makes a friend. The story takes place in New York City, but it could take place anywhere there are 7th graders who find themselves in the Twilight Zone of becoming an adult. You don’t need me to tell you the plot of the book, just go read it. You can be a grandparent and still remember the challenges of growing up way before the Internet, texting, and social media changed the rules.
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LibraryThing member mal2012
Wish that it has just been Emily's (&maybe Sherman's) story. Then it would have been a 5.
LibraryThing member Karen59
I am always excited when Rebecca Stead writes a new book. I know that the story will have depth, be engaging, and smart. This is the case with Goodbye Stranger, a novel about three friends who have grown up together and have supported each other through good and hard times and have promised each
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other not to fight with each other or have conflict. This becomes harder as each girl becomes 12 and explores what it means to mature, to move into the world of boys (or not want to), selfies, feminism and, for at least two protagonists, traumatic events, that made lasting impact. Bridge was my favorite character. She is a girl who was in a serious accident and draws small animals on her homework and wears bunny rabbit ears for protection and solace. Her friends, in turn, protect her, while they reach forward to grab on to new experiences. They individually and collectively learn how to remain together while they also learn how to have, at least, some conflict as they must in order to grow.

The part of the book that did not feel successful to me was the second story line with an anonymous character. I do not want to say too much and give it away but I did not think it added anything to the story and just distract me.

Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to review this book for an honest opinion.
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LibraryThing member jmoncton
If I ever met a middle grader who was struggling with life in middle school, I would give them this book. Goodbye Stranger covers so many of the social land mines that middle graders go through, from dating, to trying to fit in but stand and and be noticeable, to friendship. Even though middle
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school was decades ago for me, I found this book fascinating.
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LibraryThing member acargile
This realistic fiction novel is the only novel by Ms. Stead that I’ve ever liked.

The story revolves around several characters who are all friends, but the “main” character is Bridge, who survived an accident before third grade and wonders what her reason to live must be. As a seventh grader,
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Bridge is a very likable girl. She’s content to be herself and even wears cat ears and it’s not weird. She’s also very nice and follows her own sense of morals/ethics without judging others. Her two best friends are Tab and Emily. Tab is the girl who gets upset and speaks out. She’s even becoming a little bit of a feminist and thinks she knows everything. Emily is good at everything. She’s pretty, athletic, and can sing. She cares more about fitting in and will bow to peer pressure more than Tab or Bridge, but they will remain friends through everything.

Sherm is angry about his grandfather leaving and writes him notes that he never sends him. He befriends Bridge, and they end up becoming almost inseparable. In this end, this novel is about relationships. Sherm and Bridge both do not consider themselves boyfriend/girlfriend, but they want to spend time together, both acknowledging a special friendship. They question as to how one knows whether you like/love someone. Emily is the most daring and her relationship represents the questionable activities this generation engages in as part of dating and what nefarious actions some people will do. There are other types of relationships explored in the novel--brother/sister, friends, student/teacher, mean girl/her minion friends, etc.

This is a solid middle school book that will appeal to advanced 6th graders to 8th graders. It’s a good story. I missed the meaning of the title, so someone will have to read the book and tell him what he/she thinks! If you want a positive story with good characters, read this one.
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LibraryThing member Brainannex
I almost don't want to rate this one at all because I am very torn. On the one hand, I think Rebecca Stead is a master and could re-write a pizza menu and it would have moments of brilliance. On the other hand, this book felt like a bit of a mixed message. Maybe this is me being a fuddy-duddy but
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the age of the characters and the subject matter of sexting feels like a bit of a disconnect. For When You Reach Me, the disconnect of age and topic felt spot on but this one felt a bit more manufactured.
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LibraryThing member lowie35
A beautifully written story of friendship and betrayal told from various view points and showing, with clarity and sensitivity, the awkward emotional world of young teens navigating middle school and life. Plenty of quotes to savor! 4 stars.
LibraryThing member shazjhb
Kid of sad when the best book to read is for adolescents. However, it was readable and probably a great book for a younger person
LibraryThing member ChristianR
This book has two story threads until they converge at the end. Bridge is a 7th grader whose best friends are Tab and Emily. Emily has a crush on a boy, who starts a chicken game with her to text body parts -- starting with the foot, but advancing to uncomfortable territory. Bridge and Tab try to
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help her, but things get out of hand and other kids start to call her names. Meanwhile, Bridge is developing a friendship herself with a boy and is confused about her feelings for him. In the other story, a girl skips school and wanders her neighborhood in New York. Something awful has happened, but the reader doesn't know what until the end.
Rebecca Stead is a great author and this is a wonderful book. I do have a few issues with some of the ways the girls react to things which feels too grown up and more like how an adult would like them to handle things. But a solid book overall.
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LibraryThing member BillieBook
It was cute, but I wanted it to be more. Another case of my unrealistically high expectations getting in the way of enjoying a book as much as I would have otherwise.
LibraryThing member imtanner2
Loved this story about three girls who had been friends since they were in elementary school and their changing relationships as they moved into middle school as well as the secondary story about a girl losing her friendship with another girl. Great book.
LibraryThing member bogreader
I think I would have followed this story line better in text than on audio.
LibraryThing member ewyatt
Multiple narrators explore friendship in this novel set in New York City. For one character, who remains nameless for much of the novel, the action takes place on a single day. For the other featured friends, the novel follows them from the beginning of the year until Valentine's Day of their
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seventh grade year. Bridge survived getting hit by a car in third grade, an accident which could have easily killed her. She has a great family and a tight group of friends who each experience their own issues. The characters are well-developed and each have their own individual quirks.
Lots of food for thought. Sometimes the friends seem too good to be true, but it is a deep, kind journey.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
There is so much to like about this novel - positive girl friendships, healthy boy-girl relationships, strong family. The conflicts of junior high and developing personalities puts the friendship of Bridge, Tab, and Em at risk, but they figure out ways to stay connected, and to support each other.
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There is a subplot where Em and a boy get in trouble for trading suggestive text pictures which is actually handled so well in the course of the story. Really, my favorite type of YA story.
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LibraryThing member jothebookgirl
I read the entire book and really liked the characters and the writing, but I was never gripped by the story.

Bridge (formerly Bridget) finds increasing confidence as she navigates her seventh-grade year. Sherm world is upset with his grandfather leaving his grandmother after all those years of
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marriage. Sherm writes letters to him but they remain unsent. classmate And an unnamed, slightly older child in a second-person narrative spends a single miserable day avoiding school for reasons that are revealed at the turning point. This author explores communication and how messages—digital or verbal, intentional and inadvertent, delivered or kept private— complicate the already complicated life of a teenager.
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LibraryThing member Robinsonstef
A great book for middle school readers. So many things they can relate to and the characters really grow on you.
LibraryThing member SamMusher
I wish this had been Bridge, Tab, and Em's straightforward story. The digressions into Sherm's letters and Unnamed High Schooler's Valentine's Day slowed down the story and I think make it harder to sell to my "I want more books about teen drama" kids. But still, it's Rebecca Stead, and I love her
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warm characters and looping narratives.
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LibraryThing member deslivres5
This YA novel confounded me, from the meaning of the title up until the very end. I *think* I enjoyed it? A novel truly based around LOVE: the love of three quirky childhood best friends as they stand strong together during their seventh grade experiencing the ups and downs of middle school. The
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love of a brother and sister. A boy's love for his absent grandfather. Kind, understanding parents. Romantic love.

Most of the action takes place around Valentine's Day and there is a side story which doesn't come together/become clear until the end. I gave this one a chance because the author's juvenile fiction book, When You Reach Me, is a favorite.

I listened to the audiobook and the narration added to my confusion: there are three separate narrators. The narrator for the chapters dealing with the three best girl friends doesn't sound right:
she is speaking in the voice of 13-year old girls, but sounds a lot older. The other two narrators, one for a middle school boy and one for a high school girl were fine. (less)
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LibraryThing member MrNattania72
Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a realistic fiction reader, but this was a cute friendship book where it all works out for the best for everyone involved. It had a sugar coated moment golf Cyberbullying and the topic of Digital / Socisl Mefis respinibilututy, but overall pretty true to life. My
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boys in class would never read this, but I could get a few emerging female readers to pick this up and give it a try.
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Pages

304

ISBN

0385743173 / 9780385743174
Page: 1.7057 seconds