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61 pages 2 hours read

Rebecca Stead

Goodbye Stranger

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2015

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Themes

Different Kinds of Love

In Goodbye Stranger, Stead presents a nuanced and complex narrative about love by weaving together a diverse cast of coming-of-age characters and exploring their experiences through three narrative voices. Bridge and her friends learn that love is a spectrum; in addition to romantic love, there are other forms of affection like love for family, friends, and oneself. Bridge first learns about love from her mom when she tries to complete her school assignment to define love. “Her mom had once told her that love was a kind of music. One day, you could just…hear it” (7). Mrs. Barsamian speaks about love through something she loves, but the metaphor is lost on Bridge. As Bridge sees Em develop her first crush, her feelings about love become more complicated as she has not yet felt romantic love. After she meets Sherm, Bridge thinks she might like him a lot, but she can’t find the language to explain her feelings: “She was definitely not his girlfriend. But she might be his best friend” (136). Through their relationship, Bridge learns that becoming friends first is the best way to build a romantic partnership. As a contrast to Bridge and Sherm’s relationship, Em and Patrick’s relationship suffers as a result of impulsive decision-making and peer pressure.

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