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Literature / What Happened to Goodbye

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What Happened to Goodbye is a 2011 young adult novel by Sarah Dessen.

Mclean Sweet has been to three schools in two years. Living with her father, a traveling restaurant consultant, after her parents' messy divorce, she tries not to plant too many roots and even takes on a new identity with every town she goes to— from cheerleader to drama geek to student council member. Arriving in Lakeview while her father attempts to save a struggling local restaurant, she has a new identity picked out. But after a series of events and encounters with her new classmates— and Dave Wade, her cute next-door neighbor —Mclean starts to realize that she doesn't have to hide behind nicknames anymore.


This novel contains examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: Averted. Both of Mclean's parents keep communication lines open, even if Mclean ignores it in her mother's case, and clearly care for their daughter. While Mclean's parents don't notice her changing identities in every town until they read a journal of hers that details it, it's mostly because neither of them realized just how much Mclean was affected by the divorce, and Mclean's mother has the justification of not being present in Mclean's life enough to notice. Mclean's dad, on the other hand, did actually notice that Mclean kept going by different names, but thought that it was only names and didn't realize the full extent of the issue. Once both parents fully realize what's going on, they're quick to be there for their daughter despite whatever issues they might have with each other.
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  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Downplayed. Mclean's half-siblings come with all the annoyances of typical toddlers, and Mclean mentions feeling like the twins are part of her mother's plan to replace her old family with a new one; despite this, Mclean never directs her negative feelings about the divorce or her mother at the twins.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Played with. Mclean feels like her mother's pregnancy with the twins is an attempt to replace the old, pre-divorce family with a newer and better one, and strongly resists being pulled into the change.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: A whole lot between Mclean's dad and Opal.
  • Beta Couple: Mclean's dad and Opal.
  • Character Development: Jason Talbot, Macy's Harvard-bound ex from The Truth About Forever and Auden's neurotic would-be prom date in Along for the Ride, apparently dropped out of school and got a job cooking at Luna Blu, and seems much more relaxed and happier for it.
  • Character Overlap:
    • Jason Talbot previously appeared in The Truth About Forever and Along for the Ride.
    • Gervais from Lock and Key is a friend of Dave's.
    • Heidi and Thisbe from Along for the Ride also reappear.
  • Daddy's Girl:
    • Mclean, mainly because she is still resentful of her mother's affair, to the point where she'd rather move around constantly with her father then live with her mother.
    • Both Heather and Riley are also Daddy's girls.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Heather has a reputation for not looking before merging and gets into wrecks frequently.
  • Extreme Doormat: Zigzagged for Mclean, who will do anything to make her father happy and anything to avoid having to be stuck with her mother.
  • The Fashionista: Opal.
  • Female Gaze: Mclean's dad gets a fair amount of this.
  • Hidden Depths: Deb is a neat example where her hidden depths aren't a surprise to Mclean so much as to the other characters who have known her longer.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Jason Talbot attended Harvard, but dropped out before completing. Word of God says he's happier now.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Riley and Dave.
  • Loony Friends Improve Your Personality: Mclean's new friends at school and at Luna Blu.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Heather.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Mclean's mother marries the basketball coach of her father's favorite team after they had an affair.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Dave and Riley.
  • Really Gets Around: Downplayed. Mclean's dad dates a different woman in every city, usually right before they move, and then cuts them loose with no warning when the next job comes around, and Mclean emulates this habit to a degree. Both of them grow out of it over the course of the novel, however.
  • Romantic False Lead: Mclean's dad goes on several dates with Lindsay Baker, but it ultimately doesn't pan out and he ends up with Opal instead.
  • Shipper on Deck: Riley for Dave and Mclean.
  • Stepford Smiler: Deb is constantly cheerful, helpful and organized, but there are numerous hints that she's actually miserable about being a social outcast.
  • Teen Genius: Dave.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: Inverted and gender-inverted; Mclean goes to visit her mother per the custody agreement.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: The protagonist is named Mclean, after a basketball coach. Her mother even thinks it's a dumb name and gives her the common middle of Elizabeth so she can always go by that or a nickname if she needs to.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Mclean's mother.
    • Riley's boyfriend cheats on her.


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