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Goodbye, Perfect

Review

Goodbye, Perfect

Sara Barnard’s GOODBYE, PERFECT is a riveting novel about 15-year-old Bonnie, a schoolgirl at Kett Academy, who runs away with her music teacher (a man twice her age), and the effects it has on her best friend, Eden McKinley. Eden knows where Bonnie has run off to but as her best friend, she promises her that she won’t tell the police or her parents her location. This becomes difficult for Eden, as she learns that she may not know her best friend as well as she originally thought. Eden has to deal with the fallout Bonnie has left behind, as no one believes that Eden didn’t know of Bonnie’s running away or her relationship with her teacher, Mr. Cohn. Eden becomes increasingly frustrated as her best friend fails to realize the gravity of the situation she is in.

"Sara Barnard absolutely killed this novel! She was able to accurately express the pressures put on teens today to be perfect and…what it’s like to fail to meet these expectations….This was such an eye-opening story…"

Bonnie, who is Miss Perfect and beloved by her teachers, and Eden, who struggles with school and who the teachers despise, are complete opposites but best friends despite their distinct differences. They have been best friends since they were eight. Eden has always been known as the rebellious and troubled one, so when Bonnie takes the route of being rebellious by running away with her teacher, everyone around them is shocked. The police are involved and Bonnie’s face is plastered all over the news and social media. However, Eden is adamant to staying loyal to Bonnie despite her growing worry at Bonnie’s behavior.

 

I enjoyed the aspect of Eden being adopted and trying to navigate this difficult situation with her adopted parents. I loved how the author was able to incorporate Eden’s struggles alongside Bonnie’s despite how different they are. Eden struggles with making relationships and letting people in while Bonnie struggles to keep everything together. I also loved the aspect of Eden’s older sister, Valerie, as a parallel to Bonnie. Valerie is just like Bonnie and has been where she is. She understands the pressures of getting straight A’s, avoiding receiving detentions and keeping her parents happy. I love how Valerie shows how the pressures of being perfect in her youth have affected her in her adulthood. Valerie took a different route than Bonnie, but still ended up falling into rebellion and straying from everyone's expectations as Miss Perfect.

The ending was like a breath of relief. It was almost expected that Eden and Bonnie would reach to this conclusion but also greatly unexpected. I loved how the author showed the impact that major events have on friends, even with the longest and closest of friendships. The novel exhibited the power of friendship (as cheesy as it sounds) and how you may not know a person as well as you originally thought you did, and that sometimes we make assumptions and judgments without even realizing it. We especially are quick to make assumptions and judgments with those whom we love the most. The novel calls for us to look past this and see people for who they really are, rather than who you think or want them to be

Sara Barnard absolutely killed this novel! She was able to accurately express the pressures put on teens today to be perfect and meeting others expectations of us. She also showed what it’s like to fail to meet these expectations and goals. Barnard showed how these influences can force us to break and fall apart in extremely unhealthy ways. She expresses how teens should rebel against these expectations, but in a healthy way and a way that makes us happy. She pushes us through this novel, to pursue goals that might not fit with what others believe we should want, but fit with what we want.

This was such an eye-opening story and in ways relatable, whether you're Eden and you struggle with school and staying out of trouble or whether you’re Bonnie and you struggle with maintaining perfect grades and doing everything flawlessly. You are able to sympathize with these girls and what they are going through. This story serves as a reminder to lean on our loved ones and to speak up when something is not right, before it blows up into something unimaginable. I absolutely recommend it to anyone who is going through a hard time, especially if it involves school, your friends, or your family, as this book relates to all three.

Reviewed by Jordan B., Teen Board Member on February 13, 2019

Goodbye, Perfect
by Sara Barnard