But no one can imagine the effects of year seven. Em's body seems to explode in a matter of months. Everybody notices, especially the boys. Then an innocent new friendship turns weird and Tab and Danby face tough decisions about how far they will go to protect their set.
There's heartbreak, suspension from school, new friends, frenemies and villains. There's also a generous serve of intrigue and a touch of romance.
While the core of the story circles around Danby, her friends and the dilemma, an occasional Valentine's Day chapter about a mystery person threads itself through the narrative. Written in the second person, it took me ages to decide if this mystery character was male or female. Even then, I kept thinking I'd nailed them only to realise I was off track.
Rebecca Stead is a master of intrigue. She kept me hanging until the last few pages but that was half the fun. Just as in her Newbery Medal winning When You Reach Me, the pieces of Goodbye Stranger don't fall into place until the very end but it's worth the wait. I really didn't see it coming.
Title: Goodbye Stranger
Author: Rebecca Stead
Publisher: Text Publishing, $19.99
Publication Date: 5 August 2015
For ages: 9 years +
Type: Middle Grade Fiction