Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell.
Page Count: 320 pages.
Published: October 1, 2013.
Published by: Abrams.
Source: Requested for review from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you, Abrams/Amulet!
Rebecca Blue is a rebel with an attitude whose life is changed by a chance encounter with a soon-to-be dead girl. Rebel (as she’s known) decides to complete the dead girl’s bucket list to prove that choice, not chance, controls her fate. In doing so, she unexpectedly opens her mind and heart to a world she once dismissed—a world of friendships, family, and faith. With a shaken sense of self, she must reevaluate her loner philosophy—particularly when she falls for Nate, the golden boy do-gooder who never looks out for himself. Perfect for fans of Jay Asher’s blockbuster hit Thirteen Reasons Why, Coriell’s second novel features her sharp, engaging voice along with realistic drama and unforgettable characters.
Goodbye, Rebel Blue has a premise that's definitely unique but easy enough to lay out: "Social outcast girl finds recently dead girl's bucket list and feels compelled to complete the tasks that the dead girl never got the chance to. Change ensues." Coriell takes this idea and then uses an array of interesting characters and situations to make this so much more than just a typical "loner-girl no more" story. It has real heart and attitude and is thought-provoking, really encouraging us to look deeper at ourselves and what we truly want out of life.
There were a lot of absolutely wonderful characters in this book, but Rebel in particular I really enjoyed. She's certainly abrasive and a straight-shooting, tell it like it is kind of girl, but in a way you have to admire her for that. As well as for her spunk, of course. I loved that she called people out when she felt mistreated and really stood up for herself. She presents the world with the girl she feels she is; anybody who doesn't like that can move on, and she thinks she's happy that way. I think, though, that a lot of people will connect to the Rebel that's hidden below her tough exterior. The Rebel that feels unwanted because she just doesn't seem to fit into the world she's been stuffed into since her mother's death. The Rebel that has a lot of trouble making connections with other people because she feels so different from everyone else. She describes herself as a barefoot girl in a world that wears shoes and I think that's a great reflection of her uniqueness, while also helping her uncover why she struggles so much with fitting in.
Rebel's relationships with people change a lot over the course of the novel, including hers with love interest Nate, to whom she wouldn't have given the time of day before the bucket list enters her life. That relationship is a great one and I loved watching it unfold, especially with the way the two of them challenge one another. It's such a real and overall positive relationship that you can't help but root for them as a couple. I also loved the other relationships that develop, though. Rebel makes friends with Nate's adorable younger siblings, and his sister has one of the biggest personalities I've seen in a while. They're such an excellent addition to the story and the way they help contribute to Rebel's growth is perfect for who they are. I truly loved how real the characters felt throughout, even through all the transitions and changes they experience.
She also grows when it comes to her family ties. Rebel never knew her father and lost her mother years ago, so she has been living with her aunt, uncle, and teenage cousin, Penelope. She has never felt accepted as part of their family and so has never truly developed a relationship with any of them. The way this family changes as the bucket list makes Rebel (and in turn, the rest of the family), re-evaluate life is certainly interesting to see. The fact that family, both Rebel's and Nate's, is such an important part of this story is so refreshing for YA these days and gives this novel and its characters an extra level of depth.
Overall, I thought this was a wonderful story of personal development and relationships with an enjoyable and relatable cast of characters that all do a little growing. It was honest, realistic, and so easy to love. A truly fantastic novel.