Goodbye Stranger


From the introduction, ‘Goodbye Stranger‘ catches the reader. The thought of our storyteller, Bridge, surviving a near- fatal traffic accident, living with the comment that she ‘survived for a reason’ is curious. Then we meet her again, when she is older. She has taken to wearing cats’ ears each day, and is caught in a pinky-promise-never-fight-best friend triangle with two other girls. Each has vastly different directions and impulses.

‘But Bridge understood that life didn’t balance anymore. Life was a too-tall stack of books that had started to lean to one side, and each new day was another book on top.’

In the background, we share a frenzied day in the life of an anonymous girl, known to Bridge, forced to skip school, after making a decision forced by friendships, which she then regrets.

This is like ‘Friends’ for young adult readers, but without the sophistication and overconfidence. We feel for each of the characters, from Em, grown too fast too young, Sherm, honourable and cautious, despite his anger with his absent grandfather, and Jamie, Bridge’s older brother, caught up in a neighbour’s ever more ridiculous dares.

Rebecca Stead is able to move time and characters like a magician. We are engrossed in the worries and actions of her characters and see them play out across a sort of New York City chessboard. Goodbye Stranger is a really impactful, strong and moving story.


Goodbye Stranger

Rebecca Stead

(Andersen Press)

‘Goodbye Stranger‘ introduces us to Bridge, convinced her survival of a near-fatal accident was ‘for a reason’. Yet, what is that reason?
Three years after the accident and Bridge is struggling with friendships. While she agrees with her two best friends that they will never fight, tensions threaten to break their bond. Emily is focused on a boy who wants her to behave as she’d never have considered earlier. Meanwhile, Tabitha is so certain of everything. She disparages Emily and overwhelms Bridge. Does everything have a feminist twist?
Bridge’s family’s coffee shop is the haunt of an anonymous character who skips school. Then, there’s Sherm, Bridge’s new friend, struggling with his grandfather’s decision to leave his family.
As you read this book, there’s a sense of watching characters move in slow motion from a bird’s eye view. The writer plays with time and feelings like a stage director. Thereafter, the emotional story and content such as sexting mean it is appropriate to older & YA readers.


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