Monday 30 April 2018

Review on Goodbye, Perfect

Eden McKinley shares all her secrets with Bonnie, her best friend who she's known since they were eight years old. Eden is shocked when Bonnie suddenly decides to run away with Jack, her boyfriend which Eden has never met, and who she knows nothing about about from his name. Eden soon finds out there was a reason for all the secrecy, as Jack is actually Mr Cohn, their music teacher. Eden has promised Bonnie that she won't reveal the fact she is still in contact with her to the police, or help to lead them to her, but Eden soon starts to wonder if she is doing the right thing. Should Eden stay loyal to Bonnie, or should she tell the police what she knows?

 So before I start this review, I have a confession. This is the first Sara Barnard book I've ever read. For years I wasn't a huge fan of contemporary YA, so I somehow managed to avoid the hype over Beautiful Broken Things and A Quiet Kind of Thunder, but over the last couple of years I've read some amazing contemporary YA which has changed my opinion towards the genre completely! Sure there's plenty of sappy, cliché love stories in contemporary YA, but it's books like Goodbye,Perfect that have made me fall in love with the genre.

The book follows Eden McKinley, a teenager in her last year of school. The week before the GCSE exams are due to start, Eden's best friend Bonnie runs away from home with Mr Cohn, their music teacher. One thing I found interesting about this book was that it followed Eden rather than Bonnie. I have read similar books about teenagers who run away from home, but they have always been from their point of view. I thought the story being told from Eden's perspective was unique, as we got to see the repercussions on Bonnie's friends and family.

A few years ago, there was a similar case in the UK where a fifteen year old girl had ran away to France with her maths teacher. Like with Bonnie's case, it was all over the news, and the pair were eventually caught by the police. I felt that writing a fictional version of something that could and has happened to a teenage girl made Goodbye,Perfect a powerful story, and there were no instances where I thought a part of the plot was unrealistic. It was easy to see the difficulty of Eden's situation, as she was torn between her loyalty to Bonnie and doing what she thought was right.

One thing that I loved about this book was Eden's family. Eden and her younger sister, Daisy, have been in and out of foster care for years, until one of their foster families decides to adopt them. I loved the family bond between them all, and it showed that family isn't about who you are related to, it's about who you love. I loved that although Eden initially didn't get along with Valerie, her adoptive parents biological daughter, she soon discovered that there was more to Valerie than she thought, and she wasn't just the perfect, straight A student that Eden thought she was.

The theme of not truly knowing what is going on in the life of someone who you think you know well runs throughout the book. Eden thinks that all Bonnie cares about is getting good grades, and assumes her family life is perfect, even though the reality is that Bonnie had been having problems at home. It showed the importance of having someone who you can talk to about personal problems, as I felt as if Bonnie turned to Mr Cohn because he listened to her, which gave him the opportunity to gain her trust. I think the scariest part was that Mr Cohn seemed like a nice person, and I think we all had that one teacher in their 20's who seemed to have more in common with us than the older ones, which just shows that anyone could groom a minor, even if they have no previous history of doing so.

I loved that romance wasn't a huge part of the plot, but the romance we did get was sweet and unproblematic. It's true that teenage romances can often be dramatic, but sometimes that's not the case. When I was Eden's age, there was a couple in my class who started dating who are still together now. I loved that Eden and Connor were together before the start of the novel, and they never had any drama between them that didn't involve Bonnie. We rarely see this side of teen romances in YA fiction, but they can and do exist. I loved that Connor constantly supported Eden, even when he didn't agree with her ideas. Honestly, we all need a Connor in our lives!

Exams come up quite often in the book, and something I loved was Eden's feelings towards them. Some people just don't cope well in an exam environment, and everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Getting bad grades in your GCSE's isn't the end of the world. University isn't for everyone, and you don't need a degree to do well in life, as there are alternatives, such as apprenticeships. Having to make a decision on what you want to do with your life when you're a teenager is difficult, and although Eden decided grades weren't important for the job she wanted to go into, it's often not that easy. There is no time limit to decides what you want to do, and when I was in University, there were multiple older students in my classes who had families. Just because you feel pressured to decides on a career at sixteen, doesn't mean that you have to stick with that decision for life

Something that I loved and felt was completely honest to real life was how it showed that people change over time, and even people who you have been friends with for years can change beyond recognition. Life goes on, and I myself am no longer friends with anyone that I went to school with, and I'm pretty sure that if I were to meet up with them now, I'd have nothing in common with them anymore. Life is full of temporary friendships, but sometimes if you're lucky, you find a friend who sticks by you no matter what. I didn't actually meet my best friend until I was eighteen, but I'm sure we will be sitting in our rocking chairs talking about Harry Potter in fifty years.

I overall loved this book, and although it dealt with serious and important themes, it also had themes of the importance of family, friendship and love. Finally I have discovered what an amazing author Sara is, and I will definitely be reading her other books ASAP!

Goodbye,Perfect is now available to purchase!

  | Amazon Book Depository

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