cover image Goodbye Stranger

Goodbye Stranger

Rebecca Stead. Random/Lamb, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-74317-4

Bridget Barsamian accidentally skated into traffic at age eight, and this brush with death has made her an uncommonly introspective seventh-grader. A tight triumvirate, Bridge and her friends Tab and Em have sworn upon a Twinkie never to fight, but now Em’s curves are attracting boy interest (and a request for a risqué photo), while Tab’s attentions are turning toward feminism and social justice. Meanwhile, Bridge has a new friend, Sherm; his share of the story unspools in letters to his estranged grandfather, who left Sherm’s beloved Nonna after 50 years of marriage. Then there is an unnamed high school–age character, whose second-person chapters take place on Valentine’s Day, months in the future. Keeping readers off-balance is a Stead hallmark, but it doesn’t work quite as successfully here as it did in When You Reach Me and Liar and Spy, perhaps because the mystery narrator and the people she interacts with aren’t as fleshed out as everyone else. That said, this memorable story about female friendships, silly bets, different kinds of love, and bad decisions is authentic in detail and emotion—another Stead hallmark. Ages 10–up. Agent: Faye Bender, Faye Bender Literary Agency. (Aug.)