Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

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(Potential spoilers ahead! Be warned!)

Heading into every year I try to look at the books that are set to be published in the year ahead, and there’s always a list worth a small fortune that ends up being compiled as result. This, for rather obvious reasons, was one of the books at the top of my list. Having read Sara’s previous book A Quiet Kind of Thunder, a book which completely blew me away, I was very excited for this book too – rightly so, as it turned out!

Eden McKinley’s best friend Bonnie is a model student, consistently getting straight-As and on track to become Head Girl. But then she goes on the run with her secret boyfriend, the last person Eden would have expected. The police begin the search for her and Bonnie is worried knowing that she’s lost her best friend, physically and emotionally too, but best friends never tell, right?

Of course, whatever description I gave of the book there does it a complete injustice. To begin with, I found myself being reminded of ‘Me & Mr J’ by Rachel McIntyre on the basis that both focus on student-teacher relationships within the plot. What’s different about Goodbye, Perfect is that it’s taking a new dynamic – we’re seeing the relationship, however anyone else sees it within the book, from the impact that it has on people around her. This is really interesting. We get our whole sense of Bonnie’s character almost solely through how she interacts with the other characters within the book, and by the way, the use of systems like messaging within the book was perfect.

Speaking of impacts on other people, there’s a beautiful line about relationships that Connor says around halfway through the novel. It goes something like, “Being in a relationship means considering their whole lives, not just the part with you in it.” Connor and Eden’s relationship was one of the key highlights of the book for me. There’s always a certain beauty to reading romances written well, and for me their relationship was an absolutely essential component of the book, second to Bonnie’s disappearance to begin with, I doubt the book would have worked without the two being as close as they were. Valerie was right when she said Connor wasn’t quite like “other 16 year old boys.” This aspect of the novel is really hard to try and explain without spoiling, so my advice here is read the book and try and tell me it’s not one of the best fictional relationships you’ve ever read (alongside Steffi and Rhys’ from A Quiet Kind of Thunder of course!).

I do want to mention the ending. Again, I’m trying not to spoil the book, but whilst I’m not entirely convinced the book could have ended in any other way without doing the story justice, I’m a little sad we didn’t find out what happened to Bonnie post-Glasgow. That, of course, is representative of their then broken down relationship, but on a personal note I would have liked a little more detail of what happens. Then again, as the book points out, people and life aren’t always that straightforward!

I loved the book, and can’t recommend it enough to you. If you’re in need of a great YA book that genuinely will keep you coming back for more, look no further. On with book 4, Sara?!

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