Review: Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

Goodbye, Perfect is about usually- responsible, sensible Bonnie running away with her boyfriend right before exams are about to start. Her best friend Eden is confused and shocked, and it’s all even more of a mess when she finds out the boyfriend is their music teacher.

This book begins One Week Before when the girls are revising for their GCSE’s and Bonnie suddenly asks Eden if she’s ever thought about running away. Eden doesn’t think anything of this question, puts it down to exam stress. Until her adoptive mother disturbs her shower on Saturday afternoon telling her the police are at their house. What happens next takes place in a fairly short time frame, and the whole situation is far from simple.

I was really looking forward to reading Goodbye, Perfect. With an important topic and that beautiful cover, I couldn’t resist. I’ve seen a lot of positive things about this book, aswell as the authors other books, so I was fully expecting to give a glowing review and the highest rating. Though I can appreciate why others are loving this book, it fell a little.. short for me.

The main reasoning for this is the characters. *gasp*

Here me out. While I felt like I knew a good deal of information about each character, I didn’t actually like most of them. Which, for me at least, makes the whole reading experience a bit meh. I’m not going to sit here and say I hated it because I definitely don’t, but (oh no, the dreaded but) I don’t think I’d recommend it. Which is kind of sad for me to say since I had such high hopes. Don’t get me wrong though – someone else might adore this book!

The characters I would’ve loved more of are Daisy (Eden’s younger sister), Connor (Eden’s boyfriend), and Valerie (Eden’s adoptive older sister). I was thinking throughout that there could’ve been more detail about their lives, whether included in conversation with Eden or just casually snuck into the story.

Eden herself, I wasn’t keen on. I get it, she hasn’t had the easiest life, but she didn’t come across as a very nice person. She was torn between protecting a friend and keeping the trust alive, and doing what was ultimately the right thing to do. For a long time, she was unsure who to listen to: the adults, saying the situation is the furthest thing from ok, or Bonnie, who was insisting she’s really happy. I didn’t like how she treated Valerie, when she was just trying to be a supportive big sister. I also didn’t like that she was rather oblivious to what happens in the lives of the people closest to her. Eden does really struggle to come to terms with what’s going on.

I felt bad for Bonnie. She was overwhelmed with pressure to do well in school. She felt as if she had no one to talk about her problems with, and therefore when Mr. Cohn (who is close enough twice her age) started listening to her and giving her way more attention than a teacher should, she believed it was love. I think she must’ve knew deep down that something was wrong (why else hide the relationship from everyone?) but didn’t want to admit it. Her reactions to peoples concern about her wellbeing and whereabouts were disturbing, because she’s clearly been manipulated enough to not see a problem, or could see the problem and thought it was too late to back out.

Things I did enjoy were how fast I was able to read this book, and how easy it was to follow along. I had a busy few days so couldn’t read it all at once, but when I did read it I knew exactly what was going on, and was able to get through it quickly. I liked when Eden would make a list containing a few details about someone who she’s currently talking about. I also liked the Conversations That Took on a New Meaning after Bonnie Disappeared. I appreciated that there was no drama between Connor and Eden, and that while he stuck by her side, he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind when he didn’t agree with Eden’s decisions. I didn’t mind how it ended, though I’m rather curious to know what happens next.

“We equate intelligence and academic success with happiness, even though we surely know such equivalences are futile. How many high-achieving young people go on to experience high levels of anxiety and depression?”

This isn’t a stand-out book for me though I am glad I read it. It spoke upon adoption, people abusing their authority, young relationships, and also the different ways media reacts depending on someones class, race, upbringing, etc. I’ve debated with myself about what rating to give, and I think because I don’t feel like it’s a solid 4, I’ll give it 3 stars out of 5. It was a good, short read.

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