Pages: 384 pages
Published: January 29, 2019 (first published February 8th 2018)
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
When I was wild, you were steady . . .
Now you are wild – what am I?
Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with the boyfriend Eden knows nothing about five days before the start of their GCSEs. Especially when the police arrive on her doorstep and Eden finds out that the boyfriend is actually their music teacher, Mr Cohn.
Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. There’s no way she’s betraying her best friend. Not even when she’s faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts.
As the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself.
If you don’t already know, I am not a big fan of the YA genre. I always complain about how generic and cliche sometimes books in the genre can be. Of course, I have met with some exceptions, such as The Hate U Give, Speak, More Happy Than Not, On the Come Up and others. However, most YA books don’t meet the calibre of the previous listed books, so I try to stay away from them altogether. But on the rare opportunity I come across a YA book that leaves me gushing and singing its praises. I consider Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard to be one of those exceptions.
This latest YA read left with butterflies in my stomach and a warmness in my heart. Barnard was able to convey what I feel are the realistic emotions of the 21st-century teenager. Her writing style was unlike any I have seen in a contemporary YA novel. It read like a teenager’s diary. The teenage voice that was portrayed wasn’t forced but felt so natural. It didn’t feel like an adult was talking to me, but a teen, telling me their story. I am not here to say that Barnard’s writing was simplistic or juvenile. On the contrary, I consider it to be a great gift when an author creates a deep connection with their teen readers and is not trying to sound cool or hip. Barnard treated them like teens but at the same time talked to them like adults. I like when YA authors don’t treat their readers like idiots.
Eden is another one of those diverse characters. She may not be a POC character, but yes, she is a diverse character. Eden is not only adopted and has a disability (dyslexia), she is not perfect. She does not embody this image of perfection from beginning to end and that’s okay. Her so-called imperfections are what make her a normal teenager. Eden’s constant battle of trying to meet everyone else’s idea of the perfect teenager is a troubling but fascinating journey for Eden to embark on.
For all the BHGS girls in form G, ’99-’04, in memory of when we all believed our labels. And to all the girls right now who still do: you’re so much more than what they tell you.”
Barnard’s dedication really speaks volumes to the true themes of this book. Both Eden and Bonnie both fight against the labels that are placed on them. And that is why I think this book speaks so well to teens. Teenagers, especially young girls, go against stereotypes and labels and strive to make their own place in the world. The identity issues that are explored in this book are such an important aspect to have in a YA novel. Another theme that is important to have is the true meaning of friendship. Bonnie asks Eden to do something that makes her evaluate her entire relationship with Bonnie. Teens friendship are always put the test and this book perfectly examines the true meaning of friendship.
Goodbye, Perfect was such a fascinating read. I haven’t enjoyed a YA book like this in a long time. Sara Barnard has created a book that embodies emotion, self-examination and realism all in one, a feat that is hard to characterize in most books. I know it is quick to say, but I think that Sara Barnard has become my new favorite author.
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars