This Book is My Jam: Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Welcome to This Book is My Jam, a semi-regular feature in which I talk about a book I recently read and really loved. I read books written for kids, teens, and adults, so it could be aimed at any age group.

goodbye strangerYou know those books that the more you think about them, the more you remember the characters, and the more you sit with them, the more you love them? That’s Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead for me. I really enjoyed it when I read it, but I finished it over a month ago and just can’t let it go. I want more people I know to read it so we can talk about it. If I had a middle school aged daughter, I’d want us to read it together and talk about it. In fact, in writing this review, I decided to bump my Goodreads rating up to 5 stars.

Here’s why I loved this book:

  • The relationships between the women and girls in the book. I thought this was going to go in a mean girl direction at one point, and it really didn’t. The story centers around 3 girls who have been friends for forever and have decided that they will never fight. While they figure out that this may be unrealistic, they are (mostly) supportive of each other and really try to embody what it means to be good friends. There’s also a lot of time given to mother/daughter relationships, and the conversations the girls have with their mothers are authentic and wonderful. There’s an older sister who makes an appearance and takes one of the girls under her wing. It’s really a tribute to the wonderful richness of female friendships and relationships and shows how positive those can be.
  • The portrayal of middle school. I said in my Goodreads review that I wasn’t sure these kids sounded like middle schoolers, and I stand by that, but I do think the way middle school is portrayed is accurate. Boys who want girls to send them a certain kind of picture: that’s a thing. Pushing boundaries and trying to figure out who you may be: that’s most definitely a thing. A lot of the books that deal with middle school are aimed younger than this, and present a somewhat sanitized version of what middle school is. I thought this was honest, and aimed at older middle schoolers, and I think more books like that are needed.
  • The characters. This is a really character-driven novel and I loved all of them. As I’m writing this, I realize I miss them!

For me, Rebecca Stead just keeps getting better and better, and Goodbye Stranger was most definitely my jam.

What I’ve Been Up To (Because It Clearly Hasn’t Been Blogging)

I’ve missed blogging! I keep adding blog ideas to Evernote, but haven’t had the time to sit down and blog about anything. That changes now. I have lots of posts that are in process or scheduled for the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

But what have I been doing while I haven’t been blogging? Here are a few highlights and hopefully interesting links until my next post:

  • I presented to my CALLI cohort about tough conversations and how to have them. I worked on a team with two wonderful women and I thought our presentation was awesome. I will be sharing more about the presentation and what I learned in an upcoming post!
  • I presented on toddler storytime at the CLEL Conference. CLEL is an organization I’m so lucky to be involved with. Being on the Steering Committee has been so full of learning and fun–I’m sad that my tenure is almost over! The conference was amazing. If you’re ever able to get to Colorado in September for professional development I highly, HIGHLY recommend it.
  • Inspired by Abby the Librarian’s excellent post, my department has been getting into local schools and giving booktalks to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. Coming soon: how we did it, how it’s been going (spoiler alert: AWESOME), and books I’ve booktalked.
  • Reading lots of awesome books. Look for more This Book is My Jam segments coming soon.
  • We had so many awesome summer reading programs! While it’s a bit late, I’m planning on blogging about a few of them very soon.
  • Preparing for my last CALLI session. I’m so sad about this, but happy at the same time. It’s really been a phenomenal year, full of growth. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about my leadership style, and I feel like it’s had a deep impact on me. It’s been so fun getting to know all of the amazing people in my CALLI cohort, and I’m sad I won’t get the excuse to see them as often. Look for more posts with wrap-ups of my time on CALLI coming soon.

So that’s a little taste of what I’ve been up to. Busy, excited about libraries, and working on cool stuff. I’ll be sharing about all of it very soon!