Learn more about CCRLS
Reading recommendations from Novelist
Online learning resources
Cover image for Goodbye stranger
Goodbye stranger



First edition.
New York : Wendy Lamb Books, [2015]
Physical Description:
289 pages ; 22 cm
As Bridge makes her way through seventh grade on Manhattan's Upper West Side with her best friends, curvacious Em, crusader Tab, and a curious new friend--or more than friend--Sherm, she finds the answer she has been seeking since she barely survived an accident at age eight: "What is my purpose?"
Reading Level:
Middle School.

560 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader 3.9.

Reading Counts! 3.2.

3.2 Reading Counts RC 6-8 14.0 66653.

MG Accelerated Reader AR 3.9 7.0 175459.


Call Number
TEEN Stead, R.
J Stead, R.

On Order



"Masterly. . . . Sensitively explores togetherness, aloneness, betrayal and love." -- The New York Times Book Review

Five Starred Reviews

NYT Editors' Choice

This brilliant novel by Newbery Medal winner Rebecca Stead explores multiple perspectives on the bonds and limits of friendship.

Bridge is an accident survivor who's wondering why she's still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody's games--or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade?

This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl--as a friend?

On Valentine's Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight?

Each memorable character navigates the challenges of love and change in this captivating novel.

Praise for Goodbye Stranger
"This astonishingly profound novel is not your average middle-school friendship tale." -- The Horn Book , Starred
"Stead shows how strongly love of all kinds can smooth the juddering path toward adulthood. Winsome, bighearted, and altogether rewarding." -- Booklist , Starred
"[Stead] captures the stomach-churning moments of a misstep or an unplanned betrayal and reworks these events with grace, humor, and polish into possibilities for kindness and redemption. Superb." -- Kirkus Reviews , Starred

"This memorable story about female friendships, silly bets, different kinds of love, and bad decisions is authentic in detail and emotion." -- Publishers Weekly , Starred
"Filled with humor [and] delightful coincidences. . . . An immensely satisfying addition for Stead's many fans." -- School Library Journal, Starred
"This eloquent story of friendship, first love, and identity will resonate powerfully with readers." -- VOYA , Starred

Author Notes

Rebecca Stead won the Newbery Medal for her second novel When You Reach Me in 2010. Her first novel is First Light. Rebecca's third novel, Liar & Spy, won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in 2013. She is the first US author to win the Prize.

All of Rebecca's novels have received critical and popular acclaim with When You Reach Me, Liar & Spy, and Goodbye Stranger all appearing on the New York Times bestseller list. Ms. Stead's books are published under the Random House Children's book imprint Wendy Lamb.

Before committing to a career as a writer, Rebecca was a lawyer working as a public defender.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 6

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-Ah, seventh grade! A year when your friends transform inexplicably, your own body and emotions perplex you, and the world seems fraught with questions, and the most confusing ones of all concern the nature of love. Stead focuses on Bridge Barsamian, her best girlfriends, and her newest friend Sherm-a boy who is definitely not her boyfriend (probably). They're navigating the shoals of adolescence on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Emily has suddenly developed a figure that attracts a lot of attention, Tabitha is an increasingly committed human rights activist, and Bridge has taken to wearing a headband with black cat's ears for reasons that are unclear even to her. The seventh graders aren't the only characters working out relationships. There are married parents and divorced parents and then there's Sherm's grandfather who has suddenly left his wife of 50 years and moved to New Jersey. There's also a mysterious character whose Valentine's Day is doled out in second-person snippets interspersed within the rest of the story. Love is serious, but Stead's writing isn't ponderous. It's filled with humor, delightful coincidences, and the sorts of things (salacious cell phone photos, lunchroom politics, talent show auditions) that escalate in ways that can seem life-shattering to a 13-year-old. The author keeps all her balls in the air until she catches them safely with ineffable grace. VERDICT An immensely satisfying addition for Stead's many fans.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Three tween girls navigate the perils of junior high, boys, and texting, in this friendship novel from Newbery Medal-winning Stead. Veteran audiobook narrator Farr reads the bulk of the novel from the perspective of Bridge, one of the three BFFs. It's not clear why she has been cast here playing 23-year-olds, since her voice is clearly more suited to play their mothers. Even though she captures the sensitivity and humor of junior high, she's fundamentally misplaced. The audio production also weaves in strong supporting performances by voice actor Heyborne, who reads the letters written by Sherm, Bridge's friend turned love interest, and voice actor Simhan, who comes in and out of the story as a slightly older character whose identity is not revealed until the final scenes. Ages 10-up. A Random/Lamb hardcover. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Steads latest novel is as rich and complex as her Newbery Awardwinning When You Reach Me (rev. 7/09), which might present a challenge for an audiobook. Happily, this production successfully keeps track of multiple threads by using three different narrators. Seventh-grader Bridges chapters are read by one narrator; her friend Sherms by another; and an unnamed teenage girl whose narration is in the second person (you) is the third. Change, betrayal, deep friendship, family devotion, and the beginnings of romantic love and attraction are just some of the themes here, all portrayed through characters who are so vivid and realistic that the listener almost expects them to walk into the room. susan dove lempke (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Three interwoven narrative strands explore the complicated possibilities of friendship in early adolescence. Bridge (formerly Bridget) finds increasing confidence as she navigates her seventh-grade year, while, in unsent letters to his absent grandfather, classmate Sherm expresses grief and anger over changes in his family. And an unnamed, slightly older child in a second-person narrative spends a single miserable day avoiding school for reasons that are revealed at the turning point. Stead explores communication and how messagesdigital or verbal, intentional and inadvertent, delivered or kept privatesuffuse the awkward, tentative world of young teens leaping (or sometimes falling) from the nest in search of their new selves. From Bridge's cat-ears, worn daily from September through mid-February, to Sherm's stolid refusal to respond to his grandfather's texts, the protagonists try on their new and changing lives with a mixture of caution and recklessness. Stead adroitly conveys the way things get complicated so quickly and so completely for even fairly ordinary children at the edge of growing up with her cleareyed look at bullies and their appeal (one girl is "truly genius at being awful"), as well as her look at impulsiveness and the lure of easy sharing via text. She captures the stomach-churning moments of a misstep or an unplanned betrayal and reworks these events with grace, humor, and polish into possibilities for kindness and redemption. Superb. (Fiction. 11-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Starting seventh grade means lots of changes for Bridge and her best friends Em and Tabitha. The most obvious is Em's sudden curves, which grab the attention of pretty much everyone. Other changes are more subtle, like the way Bridge starts looking forward to seeing her classmate Sherman Russo, or Tabitha's growing interest in feminism and social justice. With diverging interests and gently simmering jealousies among the threesome, it would be easy for Stead to tell an all-too-familiar tale of a crumbling tween-girl trio. But she doesn't: rather, she offers a refreshing story of three girls whose loving friendship survives fights, accepts odd habits, and offers ample forgiveness. Unfolding over a series of vignettes that alternate among Bridge, an unnamed high-school girl worried about the consequences of her betrayal of a friend, and letters Sherm writes to his absent grandfather, Stead's latest gradually teases out the nuanced feelings and motivations that guide her characters' sometimes unwise but never disastrous actions. Bridge and her friends are all experiencing a quietly momentous shift toward adulthood, and Stead gracefully, frankly, and humorously captures that change. Though that change is often scary, Stead shows how strongly love of all kinds can smooth the juddering path toward adulthood. Winsome, bighearted, and altogether rewarding. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The release of any new book by Newbery medalist Stead is a publishing event to circle on your calendar.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2010 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

IT'S REALLY NO WONDER 12-year-olds appear frequently not only in novels written for children but also in those written for adults. Taken together, the characters of some classic literature might give the appearance of a middle-school class trip - with the likes of Carson McCullers, William Golding and Vladimir Nabokov in charge, making use of the power of being 12, which is essentially the power of the threshold. If you write a book about characters of this age, you get to document that fleeting moment of change from childhood to not-childhood, when the only person looking out for you might well be you. McCullers's brilliant 1946 novel "The Member of the Wedding" used a spiky, soulful 12-year-old girl, Frankie Addams, as a vessel for ideas about, among other things, aloneness - both the day-to-day kind and the mortality kind. Frankie's yearning to be part of something bigger consumes her. As she describes her brother and his bride, "They are the we of me." Rebecca Stead, a children's writer of great feeling and invention, put 12-year-olds at the center of her first three books, "First Light," "When You Reach Me" (winner of the Newbery Medal) and "Liar and Spy." At the start of her masterly new novel, "Goodbye Stranger," Bridget Barsamian, known as Bridge, also seems to be about 12, and lives on the Upper West Side, where, when she was 8, she survived a near-death accident after skating into street traffic. The ordeal left its ghostprint upon her, which becomes newly evident in seventh grade, when the action of the book begins. Bridge has long been part of a happy threesome, along with her friends Tab and Emily. The pleasing complementarity of the girls lasts a long time, but now there are tremors of change. As Tab's older sister, Celeste, puts it, "Look at Emily with the curvy new curves!" Tab, for her part, has become "kind of a know-it-all." As for Bridge, she still draws little animals on her homework just as the three friends have been doing since she returned to school in fourth grade after a long recovery, but when her teacher writes an admonishing note about not doodling on homework, she shows it to her friends to see if they've been similarly reprimanded and neither has drawn on her work at all. Emily reassures her, "We're still a set." But if you have to remind yourselves that you're still a set, are you one? Now, suddenly, other people are starting to matter, too. There's Sherm, Bridge's new friend, who gets his own, small story line told from his perspective. And there's Patrick, an eighth grader who encourages Em to send him a provocative selfie, which ends up being seen by many more people. While it might have been tempting to set the novel slightly before our current era to avoid dealing with devices or forms of communication that could date quickly (and, for that matter, require a book to break into ugly sans-serif font), Stead's nonhysterical treatment of Em's modern problem is illuminating and feels durable. As Em remarks, "the bad part was that it felt like they were making fun of my feeling good about the picture." When Tab - influenced by an old-school feminist teacher named Ms. Berman, who asks to be called Ms. Berperson and is secretly referred to as "the Berperson" - says she won't wear a "stupid girl" Halloween costume, "like a nurse in a miniskirt or a maid in fishnet stockings," Em declares that the Berperson is brainwashing her: "What does she think you should be for Halloween? A Teletubby?" Being a Teletubby might actually solve some problems; the creatures are pre-sexual, probably immortal and definitely part of an unchanging set. Bridge and her friends have far more human worries and desires, which will only increase as they get older. In fact, Stead also gives us glimpses of a mystery high school girl whose second-person sections, set on Valentine's Day, are interlaced throughout, and whose story line punctuates and eventually lightly twines with the seventh graders' dramas. What starts out seeming like a disturbing plot involving actual physical danger turns out to concern the casual cruelty that can rise up and potentially destroy teenagers' "friendship, likeship, loveship." Because of the "you" voice and the shrouding of her identity until the last section, this story line threatens to call attention to itself as a device, but finally it succeeds as a cautionary tale that signals what may lie ahead for the younger girls. THE CHARACTERS IN "Goodbye Stranger" search for ways to feel good, feel powerful and still feel like themselves even during new experiences like romantic attraction. As Sherm, the son of a cardiologist, finally tells Bridge: "You know what my dad told me once? He said the human heart ... wrings itself out. It twists in two different directions, like you'd do to squeeze the water out of a wet towel." But when, a moment later, Sherm says to her, "I'm not going to kiss you or anything," Bridge replies, "Good." For now. Through this thicket of rapid - practically cellular - growth and change, Stead has managed to clear distinctly articulated paths for her characters. This novel not only sensitively explores togetherness, aloneness, betrayal and love, it also acknowledges something crucial to the business of growing up: how anyone's personal "we of me" might look different a little while from now, and later still, different again. MEG WOLITZER'S novels include "The Interestings" and the young adult novel "Belzhar," which will be published in paperback next month.