“Goodbye Stranger” by Rebecca Stead

“Goodbye Stranger” has a definite middle school vibe, where your friends are the most important and boys become interesting to some of your friends, but not everyone. Bridge, Tabitha, and Emily are best friends who encounter changes from growing up.

Bridge meets Sherm and starts hanging out with her maybe-crush. Tabitha starts resisting the appearance and attitude expectations that come with noticing members of the opposite sex. Emily has an older boy who’s actually interested in her. When Emily starts taking pictures of herself for this boy, the three friends have to decide if they fit together in the same way anymore.

Both libraries I visited placed this book on the YA shelves, even though it has a distinctly middle grade voice. I mean the characters are twelve-years-old for goodness sake! I suspect this decision was made because of the supposedly mature topic of a girl sending pictures of her body to a boy.

I think an age limit on this topic is a little ridiculous. Girls notice boys at a fairly young age. Boys notice girls around the same time. It is good for girls to think about boundaries and their bodies and the internet before they hit the late middle school and high school crowds. In fact, most of this book isn’t about the pictures. It’s about becoming comfortable about who you are.

There’s also a subplot about bullying in high school told from the second person in occasional chapters. I mention this because I think it’s the first time I’ve read a second person narrative that wasn’t a choose-your-own-adventure. At first it was jarring, but eventually I really wanted to know who “I” was and how “I” fit into the plot.

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