Rebecca “Rebel” Blue is an artsy girl with an attitude on the day she has an interaction with Kennedy Green, a soon-to-be-dead girl. Rebel decides to complete Kennedy’s bucket list to prove something to herself, but it isn’t long before she starts to realize that the person being fulfilled by these activities is herself. She opens up slowly to the people around her and to life’s funny coincidences.
Memorable characters help elevate Coriell’s sophomore effort from other novels with the same types of tropes. Although the novel doesn’t exactly break new ground when it comes to plot, the vivid characters and Rebel’s authentic voice should hook readers. A fairly tame love interest and even tamer language make this a safe bet for teens of all ages.
Rebel’s voice is authentic, and her pain and disillusionment with the world feel real. She’s snarky and smart but not living up to her potential, and Coriell plays with that in a realistic way. The fact that Rebel visibly grows throughout the course of the novel will resonate with readers. It’s hard not to root for her as she completes items on Kennedy’s list.
Secondary characters help flesh out the story. Rebel finds herself attracted to a do-gooder named Nate, and their blossoming relationship is predictable but satisfying. Her growing relationship with her family is well done, as well.
There’s not a lot of new ground here, and I’m not sure that this book has a lot of staying power in reader’s minds, but it’s inspiring enough and well written enough to be recommended to fans of contemporary YA who like their heroines prickly and their journeys bittersweet.
Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell. Harry N. Abrams: 2013. Electronic galley accepted for review via NetGalley.