Goodbye, Perfect - Sara Barnard

Goodbye, Perfect is the story of what happens to those left behind when an A grade ‘good’ schoolgirl runs off with her music teacher.

 

I completely adore Sara Barnard’s writing. I asked to be a part of the blog tour because I adored Beautiful Broken Things so much I sobbed into my pillow when I finished it. My copy of Goodbye, Perfect was sitting next to my computer as I was waiting for something to load, and I picked it up just to have a quick flick through, read the first page, and was instantly hooked. I devoured it over the next 24 hours. I haven’t been reading much lately, and I had honestly forgotten the joy that a damn good book can give.

 

It’s not just that Barnard has a wonderful grasp on how teenagers talk - to each other, to adults, to themselves - but her characters are so three dimensional and I recognise so much of my own life in them. I think that’s why they touch me so much. I could totally identify people from my teen years in the book, and I think Eden’s relationship with her boyfriend Connor was not exactly sweet, but certainly comforting and incredibly real, although Connor does seem particularly mature in response to his on personal circumstances, in comparison to teen boys I knew.

 

I really liked that the question in the book wasn’t really about Bonnie, the ‘good girl’, and whether or not she really was in love with a man almost twice her age, and whether or not he really was in love with her. The real point of the book was the impact Bonnie’s departure made on those left behind and the position it left Eden in. Eden had a very undeserved bad reputation courtesy of being adopted when she was nine years old, and Bonnie had a good one. Eden was the brash, nonacademic, reckless one and Bonnie was the polite, straight A, measured one. Their friendship cemented on the fact that Bonnie grounded Eden and Eden helped Bonnie loosen up. Bonnie's actions shook her world and Eden was there to witness it.

 

What really helped me fall even more deeply in love with this book is the layout. There’s not exactly chapters, but it’s divided into the days Bonnie is missing. At the end of these, Eden recaps conversations that took on another meaning after Bonnie left. Text messages and Whatsapp messages are formatted differently. Everything looked so great and I thought it was a really smart and charming way to lay out the contents of the book.

I can’t pinpoint a favourite part of the book because there were just too many, but I’ll mention some things I really loved: Eden’s exploration into what family means when you’re adopted; her relationship with Valerie, her adoptive big sister; the way she looked after both her own and Bonnie’s little sisters; the relationship with Connor; Eden’s mouthiness and how everyone was kind of exasperated with her swearing but she kept doing it; stereotypes of teen girls and reputations and broken homes and perfect lives. In fact, it was Eden who so rightfully pointed out that if Eden’s such a bad girl and if Bonnie’s so good, why was Bonnie the one that ran away, right before final exams?

 

When I read Beautiful Broken Girls I wondered if it was just going to be it for me, if Barnard was capable of writing another book so perfect and that touches me unlike any other I’ve read before. I did skip over A Quiet Kind of Thunder because I thought it was more about a hetero romance than strong (British) teenage female friendship, which I think Barnard tackles and showcases unlike anyone else. But since Barnard has now managed to hit the ball out of the park twice for me, I am going to read A Quiet Kind of Thunder, and I hope I adore it as much as I have fallen deeply in love with both Beautiful Broken Things and Goodbye, Perfect.

 

I received this book for free from Pan MacMillan in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.