Goodbye Stranger

Love is __________.

It’s the beginning of seventh grade and Bridge, Emily, and Tab have a pact: no fighting. 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. Tab sees through everybody’s games. Or so she tells the world. It’s also the beginning of seventh grade for Sherm Russo, and everything is different for him, too. When he gets to know Bridge, he wonders: what does it mean to fall for a girl—as a friend?

Meanwhile, on the approaching Valentine’s Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight?

This is a story about the bonds—and limits —of friendship.

  • Named a best book of the year by The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Horn Book, School Library Journal, PW, Booklist, Bookpage, The Boston Globe
  • An NPR “Great Read” and a New York Times Bestseller
  • Boston Globe/Horn Book Fiction Honor
  • Finalist, Premio Strega Ragazze e Ragazzi (Italy)
  • A New York Times Book Review Notable Book for Children


“Masterly. . . . 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.”
-The New York Times Book Review

“The handing-down of advice and wisdom from older girls and women is a welcome theme throughout the book and far too rare in female coming-of-age stories; it’s just one of many reasons this astonishingly profound novel is not your average middle-school friendship tale”
-Starred Review, The Horn Book

“[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.”
-Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

“Stead shows how strongly love of all kinds can smooth the juddering path toward adulthood. Winsome, bighearted, and altogether rewarding.”
-Starred Review, Booklist

“This memorable story about female friendships, silly bets, different kinds of love, and bad decisions is authentic in detail and emotion—another Stead hallmark.”
-Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

“[Stead’s writing is] filled with humor, delightful coincidences, and the sorts of things . . . 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.”
-Starred Review, School Library Journal