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 received an advanced reading edition of this novel from Pan Macmillan in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.
Goodbye, Perfect is the second novel I have read by Sara Barnard and she has easily become one of my favourite authors.
Goodbye, Perfect tackles some heavy topics, a very ‘taboo’ one in particular – a teacher seducing his 15 year old student. Told from the perspective of Eden McKinley, the reader dives into the world of teenagers – from hormonal outbursts, bullying, daily pressures, exam stress and parents who are over bearing. This novel really encapsulates what it is like being a teenager – albeit a very rare scenario occurs, but the whys as to why it happened are all too real.
Our main protagonist Eden drove me insane at times, I loved her but her teen ignorance was killing me. I suppose me being 24 and Eden being a teenager made it quite difficult for me to understand why she made particular choices but I was happy to see her accept what had happened in the end and understand that it wasn’t romantic. Her best friend had become someone she didn’t know – something that occurs over time as you grow or significant events that change a person. It was sad but Eden had many other positives in her life, she grew and opened up to her family – she looked forward to her future, whether that included Bonnie or not. I found myself resonating with Eden, she swore, she had attitude, she wasn’t perfect and she embraced that.
As I said above, Goodbye, Perfect focus’ on some heavy topics, people in a role of power manipulating those that they have a responsibility to protect. It focus’ on the pressure that society puts on teenagers to be perfect and to achieve high without focusing on the impact that those pressures have.
The grooming of a teen by a paedophile (he is a paedophile in my eyes) was sad to read, Eden’s best friend Bonnie runs away with her music teacher and reading how he groomed her made me feel ill because it was so easy for him to play on her doubts and fears. There is a mention of a song in the novel that the teacher; Mr Cohn played to Bonnie; ‘Vienna’ by Billy Joel – I listened to it and great song by the way – but you could see how smart he was to choose that song for her. It was a scary realisation and that’s when it really hit home for me about the grooming – I think it did for Eden as well when she reflected on it.
The plot flowed quite quickly – the events of the novel took place over a week with flashbacks of previous conversations between Eden and her best friend Bonnie included that took on a different light once she had run away with her music teacher. I read this novel in under a day; I honestly couldn’t put it down.
Overall a very compelling contemporary YA novel that includes topics not usually seen in YA novels but very important that they are. It’s not always about the swooning romance or damsel in distress, it can be about friendship and family too; something that Barnard does so well.