Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Goodbye StrangerGoodbye StrangerGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead by Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead is a phenomenal storyteller. Her Newbery winner When You Reach Me is amazing, and Goodbye Stranger stands up to the lofty comparisons that are sure to arise. While not quite as layered as When You Reach Me (for reasons which would involve spoilers for When You Reach Me so I’m not going to detail them), it’s still much more layered and thoughtful than the stereotypical middle grade book.

There is plenty of meaty content in the book, but it’s never explicit, and I wouldn’t hesitate to share this book widely. It would be easy for the book to become harsh with the topics and themes it addresses, but Stead manages to keep it more gentle almost.

I think this works as a middle grade or young adult book. It opens up many avenues of discussion with children who read it – the nature of friendship, bullying, cell phone use and abuse (including sexting), the challenges of growing up (especially the perils of 7th grade), and more.

Despite my praises and saying it’s surprisingly gentle considering the content, I’d still be careful before giving the book to super precocious readers. Know your readers and what they can handle!

Highly, highly recommended. I finished it and then immediately wanted to re-read it, to better appreciate the way Stead wove the story together.

Publisher’s Description:
Bridge is an accident survivor who’s wondering why she’s still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody’s games–or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade?

This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl–as a friend?

On Valentine’s Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight?

Book Details

Title: Goodbye StrangerGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Author: Rebecca Stead
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 5 Stars
Buy the book: Print | Kindle | Audible

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The Color of Our Sky

The Color of Our SkyThe Color of Our SkyThe Color of Our Sky: A novel set in India by Amita Trasi by Amita Trasi

A heartbreaking story that is beautifully written but so hard to read at times. I liked the alternating story lines, and appreciated how that structure helped ease the emotional weight.

There are a few plot holes and implausibilities, and some great secondary characters, who end up getting dropped as soon as they fill their purpose (which also relates to the implausibilities as mentioned).

Do I recommend it or think it’s worth reading? Maybe. It’s heart-rending, which is my biggest caution. The writing is lovely, while the story is horrendous. Tara is … aggravating. Mukta is too good to be true. It’s also only $4.99 on Kindle, so not a big investment. All in all, worth $5 and the reading time? Yes, I think so. Just be aware of the emotional content. I could only handle a few chapters at a time.

Some aspects of it reminded me a bit of A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea, and it seems to have a lot of similarities to The Kite RunnerThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini based on the description, if that impacts your reading decisions.

Publisher’s Description:
A sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends—one struggling to survive the human slave trade and the other on a mission to save her—two girls whose lives converge only to change one fateful night in 1993.

India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old girl from the lower caste Yellamma cult of temple prostitutes has come of age to fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute. In an attempt to escape this legacy that binds her, Mukta is transported to a foster family in Bombay. There she discovers a friend in the high spirited eight-year-old Tara, the tomboyish daughter of the family, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to a different world—ice cream and sweets, poems and stories, and a friendship the likes of which she has never experienced before.As time goes by, their bond grows to be as strong as that between sisters. In 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room.

Eleven years later, Tara who blames herself for what happened, embarks on an emotional journey to search for the kidnapped Mukta only to uncover long buried secrets in her own family.
Moving from a remote village in India to the bustling metropolis of Bombay, to Los Angeles and back again, amidst the brutal world of human trafficking, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and redemption—which ultimately withstands the true test of time.

Book Details

Title: The Color of Our SkyThe Color of Our Sky: A novel set in India by Amita Trasi
Author: Amita Trasi
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 4 Stars
(It’s hard to give this a star rating. I’m giving it 4 stars which means “I really enjoyed it” and “enjoyed” is not exactly the word that fits this sort of story because of the content.)

Disclosure: I received this book for free from NetGalley for review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!