MMGM (4/10/2017): Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Update (July 31, 2021): This review contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Goodbye Stranger, so I recommend reading my re-review or, better yet, my re-re-review of the book instead of this one.

For today's MMGM, I am recommending Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (author of When You Reach Me).

(If you are confused by this cover, it is the redesigned version, not the original.)

Here's the publisher's description:

This brilliant, New York Times bestselling novel from the author of the Newbery Medal winner When You Reach Me explores multiple perspectives on the bonds and limits of friendship. 

Long ago, best friends Bridge, Emily, and Tab made a pact: no fighting. But it’s the start of seventh grade, and everything is changing. Emily’s new curves are attracting attention, and Tab is suddenly a member of the Human Rights Club. And then there’s Bridge. She’s started wearing cat ears and is the only one who’s still tempted to draw funny cartoons on her homework.  

It’s also the beginning of seventh grade for Sherm Russo. He wonders: what does it mean to fall for a girl—as a friend?  

By the time Valentine’s Day approaches, the girls have begun to question the bonds—and the limits—of friendship. Can they grow up without growing apart? 

I do love books that are timeless, but sometimes, a book has to be specific to a certain time. That is the case with Goodbye Stranger, which deals with complex problems in a well-written way. The book features several different stories and points of view, all of which, in some way, relate to friendship. The book has a great balance of humor and touching moments. However, above all else, the best part of this book is a major plot point involving Bridge's friend, Em (short for Emily). Em and a boy she knows start exchanging pictures, some of which are of their bodies, and Em's leaks into the school. Goodbye Stranger manages to discuss every major topic that could relate to this, such as who is at fault, how exactly bad this was, etc. This review doesn't do the book justice, but Goodbye Stranger's combination of discussing something important and current and of being an overall great book makes this a great book for any older middle-grader. (And just FYI, I love this book even more than When You Reach Me, if that helps sell you on it!)


  1. I loved this when I read it and it was nice to see it being reviewed again. I'm not sure I loved it more than When You Reach Me, but at least as much as. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Rebecca Stead is one of my favorite authors but I have yet to read GOODBYE STRANGER. Another book I've enjoyed from her is LIAR & SPY. Thanks for the inspiring review. I hope to read it this summer.

  3. Glad you liked this. I loved When You Reach Me, so may check this out.

  4. I haven't read any of Rebecca Stead's novels. But, your review of GOODBYE STRANGER intrigues me. I'm sure teens will love it! Will check it out!

  5. I enjoyed this book and its honesty in dealing with middle-school issues, but I still love WHEN YOU REACH ME more.

  6. I've really enjoyed Stead's other work, although WHEN YOU REACH ME is still my favorite. Thanks for featuring this--I didn't know she had a new one out!

  7. I've read both GOODBYE, STRANGER and WHEN YOU REACH ME. I didn't recognize the cover of GOODBYE, STRANGER - thanks for telling me that they redesigned it. I didn't like GOODBYE, STRANGER as much, but it will provide insight on how to deal with middle school issues.
    Thank for your review!
    - Vi

  8. She's a great writer. Her books are all quite different from each other, but they all have the same way of digging deep into what makes people tick, and I love that.


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