Sunday, November 1, 2015

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Cover image for Goodbye strangerBridge, Em and Tab have been best friends for as long as they can remember, but when they hit 7th grade, their friendship is challenged.  Em gets a boyfriend and Tab discovers social activism.  Bridge makes a new friend in Sherm, but doesn't quite know if their friendship is more than that.  Everything blows up when Em feels pressure to text a risky picture of herself to her new older boyfriend. Both Bridge and Tab know this is a bad idea, but Em wants her relationship with this guy to progress and so she sends the picture.  Of course, it gets sent around to all his friends, and ultimately posted on facebook.

The story about "Sexting" is not the only theme in the book, but I think it was such a good treatment of the topic.  Stead does a great job showing how it starts, how Em trusts her boyfriend, and wants to share something "special" with him. In the story, it isn't even the boyfriend who shares the pictures.  Someone else gets his phone while he is at basketball practice and, in just a second, the pictures is sent to all his "friends." Of course, Em gets suspended and everyone treats her like a slut, and very little happens to the boy because they can't prove who sent it. Parents will see this as a great cautionary tale, but Stead writes it so well it doesn't sound preachy and I think the kind of kids who like "school stories" will like it.  One chilling thing about the story is that the girls are only 13/14.  One of the tensions in the story is that Em has physically matured faster than the other two.  As soon as she has a figure, she is pressured to exploit herself.  It is a sad, but true, commentary on modern society. (289 p)

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