By Darienne Stewart,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Bittersweet, lovely story of friendship and social media.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Thoughtful lessons on making, keeping, and losing friends. Helpful scenarios present some ways teens may deal with bullying, ostracism, and body shaming. Influential teachers play strong roles in students' lives.
Relationships are never static and may be tested -- especially during the teen years -- by new friends, personal growth, peer pressure, and more. But loving friendships can survive disagreements, small hurts, and misunderstandings. It's important to do the right thing, even when it's difficult. Teens may feel lonely, but chances are that many of the people around them are coping with the same feelings.
Positive Role Models
Valuable friends weather rocky circumstances together: They sometimes get angry and argue, but they apologize, forgive, and move on. Plenty of upstanders, including students cheering on a classmate struggling through an audition, and helping a student get a well-deserved turn in the spotlight. When an inappropriate photo gets circulated, a student brings it to the attention of adults and is thanked by the classmate whom some blame for spreading the image.
Violence & Scariness
Girl is bullied with verbal taunts and mean notes; student who alerted school officials to inappropriate photo is targeted by peers.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Young teen developing curves attracts attention. Teens text each other suggestive photos, which are widely circulated and lead to harassment, ostracism, and body shaming. Young teen dresses as a Playboy bunny for Halloween.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
A few coarse words: "bitches," "slut," "pissed," and "jerk."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Passing references to several brands, particularly foods, such as Twinkie, Kit Kat, Frappuccino, Volkswagen, and Matchbox.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mention of children pretending to drink empty beer bottle and getting in trouble with father.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Goodbye Stranger is a compassionate, timely novel about the strange betwixt-and-between years of middle school. Newbery Medal-winning author Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me) centers the drama on an intimate picture that gets shared with an unintended audience and touches on privacy, sexism, friendship, identity, faith, betrayal, and love in its many surprising forms. The central characters are solid, well-grounded tweens and teens who make mistakes but learn from them, with plenty of guidance from friends and family. Mean kids strongly influence events but remain at the edges of the storytelling. The sexual content -- risqué photos, a girl called a slut -- make this more appropriate for a slightly more mature audience than the publisher's recommended age of 10 and up.
Where to Read
Based on 3 parent reviews
Report this review
Report this review
What's the Story?
Best friends Bridge, Tabitha, and Emily once swore upon a Twinkie that they'd never fight -- but seventh grade is testing that vow. Em's maturing figure is drawing attention, particularly from a cute older boy sending flirty text messages. Tab has started viewing everything through a social justice prism. And Bridge still wonders why she survived an awful accident in third grade. As they try to figure out whether their friendship can survive middle school, Sherm is trying to make sense of his new connection with Bridge. He's bitter following his grandparents' separation after 50 years of marriage. Finally, an unidentified girl takes a mental health day off from school to ponder friendship and betrayal.
Is It Any Good?
Out of the everyday dramas of middle school -- flirting, pettiness, new ideas, dangerous friends -- Rebecca Stead weaves a tender meditation on love and the ways it can both strengthen and weaken us. GOODBYE STRANGER uses three distinct narrative perspectives to examine every facet of love and friendship, from newly blossoming relationships to withered, dead ones.
Stead, a Newbery Medal winner for When You Reach Me, is finely attuned to the thrills and heartaches that mark the middle school years, and readers of any age will recognize themselves in her sensitively told story. Timely plot hooks -- from dealing with "frenemies" to navigating social media -- give tweens plenty to ponder but never seem forced or preachy.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about privacy and social media. Have you heard of any situations of private material getting circulated at your school? This is a good opportunity to revisit your family's guidelines for using cell phones and social media.
Do you think females face a double standard when it comes to how they dress and behave?
What do you think of the way the characters handle the cyberbullying incidents? Do you think you would make the same choices? Why, or why not?
- Author: Rebecca Stead
- Genre: Friendship
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Wendy Lamb
- Publication date: August 4, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: December 13, 2019
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Read
Our Editors Recommend
Books About Friendship
Books to Help Your Kid Survive Middle School
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate