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A Different Kind of Valentine’s Day Story: February 2017 Middle School

January 25th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Middle School | February

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead. Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, 2015

The structure of Rebecca Stead’s novel is complex and the connections are deep and rich between characters and across several storylines as she examines friendship, family, and love. Bridge’s best friends are Emily and Tab. Seventh grade brings changes and challenges as Emily likes an older boy named Patrick, who may or may not be reliable, and there’s fallout when a picture Emily sends him is widely shared, illuminating a sexist double standard that Tab doesn’t hesitate to point out. Bridge is still occasionally plagued by nightmares from when she was hit by a car in third grade; an accident that her new friend Sherm Russo remembers, too, although Bridge doesn’t know it. Meanwhile, Bridge’s brother is on the verge of losing yet another bet with his closest-but-not-so-nice friend, and Sherm is ignoring texts from his grandfather, with whom he was close until he left Sherm’s grandmother months before. Finally there is Tab’s older sister, Celeste, whose betrayal of her new friend Gina’s confidence to her old friend Vinny, whose mean streak is getting worse, has her mortified. While the three younger girls manage to be true to themselves and one another, Celeste and Bridge’s brother are realizing that sometimes you have to let a friendship go in a novel full of truths that will resonate with readers.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What makes Bridge and Sherm’s relationship so strong?
  2. A nurse says to Bridge, “You must’ve been put on this earth for a reason, little girl…” How does that affect Bridge’s decisions and actions? What do you think your own purpose is?
  3. What issues and themes in this book make it real for middle school readers?

Find a complete discussion guide here! More resources for Goodbye Stranger available at TeachingBooks.net!

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