All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Blog Tour Review: Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

on February 14, 2018

Goodbye, Perfect
Sara Barnard
Pan Macmillan AUS
2018, 320p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

When I was wild, you were steady . . .
Now you are wild – what am I?

Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with the boyfriend Eden knows nothing about five days before the start of their GCSEs. Especially when the police arrive on her doorstep and Eden finds out that the boyfriend is actually their music teacher, Mr Cohn.

Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. There’s no way she’s betraying her best friend. Not even when she’s faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts.

As the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself.

I found this to be a really interesting book that gave me a lot of topics to mull over.

Eden and Bonnie are best friends and have been for a long time. Eden was generally considered the wild one – adopted after time in foster homes and being in and out of her mother’s care, she has occasionally acted out. Bonnie, on the other hand, was the excellent student who was focused on getting excellent grades for her GCSE’s. When Bonnie disappears less than a week before their exams start, no one is more surprised than Eden. After all, they’re supposed to be best friends. And now Eden finds out that not only has Bonnie had a secret boyfriend for some months, but that secret boyfriend is also one of their teachers.

The police and probably both Bonnie and Eden’s parents are convinced that Eden most likely knows where Bonnie is and they want her to confess. But for Eden, loyalty is important and Bonnie’s friendship is not something she’s going to risk. At all. Eden may not understand why Bonnie has entered into a relationship with a man much older than her and a teacher but she’s not going to rat her out.

One of the interesting things that I think this book addresses is in the media coverage of Bonnie’s disappearance. She’s reported missing and once it’s discovered that she’s run off with her music teacher, a man in his mid-20s, there’s a large print and screen media campaign to try and flush them out. A lot of the focus is on the fact that Bonnie is a “good girl” – quiet and studious, not the sort of person who would do this sort of thing. What even is a good girl? Bonnie is a teenager, subject to whims and desires and you could argue that her very character made her somewhat an ideal target for what is essentially, a man in a position of power preying on someone more vulnerable. Bonnie is so studious, so focused on her exams and getting good grades and doing this or that, that the strain begins to show in the months leading up to her disappearance. But the focus of the media is on her ‘goodness’, the fact that she’s been raised right, from a good family, like this somehow makes her exempt from crushes or even rash and reckless actions. And this is something you see quite often in real life – girls and women are dissected in terms of good or bad behaviour and held up and judged accordingly. I had no doubt that if it were someone like Eden that had run off with her teacher, the media coverage would most likely have had a very different focus – capitalising on her ‘troubled’ upbringing, her mother’s issues, the fact that she was taken into care and no doubt that no matter how much love and devotion her adopted family had lavished on her, she couldn’t escape her roots. Bonnie’s mother even levels a similar sort of accusation at Eden at one stage during the book.

Even though the book is told from the perspective of Eden, who knows nothing about Bonnie and Mr Cohn before they disappear, I think the author did an amazing job of showing how it developed and how Eden found it so completely unbelievable that Bonnie could find herself in this position….Eden is in a position to listen to people who explain to her about grooming. I felt that Eden’s relationship with her adoptive family is amazing. It’s clear she still has a standoffishness to her, particularly towards her older adopted sister. Eden’s adoptive parents already had a child of their own when they adopted both Eden and her younger biological sister and Eden struggles with feelings of inadequacy compared to her adoptive sister. There are times when she also refuses her adoptive mother’s overtures too but it’s very clear how protective she is of Eden but also how careful she is around her so as not to disturb their still developing relationship. It’s a very unique family environment which is handled with great care.

I really enjoyed this and the thought processes I had while reading it. I am way beyond teenage years but not so beyond that I couldn’t understand Eden’s reasoning for several of her decisions. I could also see the other side too so those sorts of internal debates were an added experience.


Book #25 of 2018

One response to “Blog Tour Review: Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

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