I received a copy of this book on NetGalley from the publisher.
Sara Barnard’s A Quiet Kind of Thunder is my Q book for this year, and was massively enjoyable. I also have Beautiful Broken Things sitting in my teetering TBR pile (or one of the three piles), patiently waiting for me to get around to it. Barnard’s third offering, Goodbye, Perfect, tells the story of Eden, and her keeping secrets for her best friend after Bonnie runs away with their music teacher. Although the Galley I got had some formatting issues which made aspects of it very hard to read, there’s a good chance I’ll be picking this up when it’s published. Those covers, and how shiny they are – how could I not want all of them on my shelf??
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.
Sara Barnard does it again. Goodbye, Perfect was perfectly pitched, a story of sisters and best friends, discovering who you are and who the people around you are. I loved Eden’s fierce, unstoppable love for her younger sister Daisy, and her bewildered and angry begrudging of her older sister Violet. Achingly real in how it’s drawn, it was wonderful to have a main character with a boyfriend who’s supportive and interesting, more than just a YA dreamboat, and actually essential in developing the story of the book. Together with that bizarre feeling of realising that you don’t know your best friend half as well as you thought you did, and set against the backdrop of GCSE week, Goodbye, Perfect was that unusual kind of book where the main character isn’t the bookish, studious character gone wild, but her already troubled best friend, bewildered at how she’s ended up left behind in the dark. Debating the lines of loyalty to your friends against the insistence of all those around you that you need to break that trust, Eden’s development over that week in the early summer was enthralling to read. I particularly loved her fragile, fractured relationship with Violet, the older sister whose family she invaded without invitation, without giving Violet a choice in the matter, and how it develops over those days of Bonnie’s jaunt off with her teacher.
Set against the backdrop of the seediest of relationships, a fifteen year old who’s been groomed by her teacher to run away so that they can be together, Eden was a wonderful companion along this journey, and I ended up standing in the middle of the pavement after getting off the bus so that I could finish the final pages of this. Barnard is quickly becoming a leading voice in UKYA, and her pitch-perfect depiction of those awkward and frustrating teenage years where everyone looks at you like you’ll grow up and learn how wrong you were soon is more relatable than I know what to do with.