Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye by Shari A. Brady

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Just Finished Reading ... Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye by Shari A. Brady



I'm reviewing today as part of the Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye Blog Tour, which was organized by Candace @ CBB Book Promotions.



Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye
By Shari A. Brady
Self-published by the author
on June 11, 2012

Source: e-ARC via CBB Book Promotions. My FTC disclosure is in the right sidebar.


Summary provided by author: Before my older sister Francesca died, I worked at the bakery and wrote songs, but now I write lists. Lists like ten reasons why it's my fault Francesca's dead, or five reasons why I should try and win Howie back, or one reason why I need to stop lying to everyone, including myself. 
Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye is an extraordinary novel about one family's struggle to make sense of their world after losing a family member to addiction. Through sixteen-year-old Carmella's eyes, we witness the courage and strength it takes to overcome the consequences of grief, guilt and co-dependency. WIth conviction and determination, Carmella shows us what can happen when we're open to love, feel the pain of our loss, and find the courage to accept the truth of our lives.

My take: I've read that the longest relationship that most people have in life is with their siblings. Whether they love you or just love to drive you crazy, they are usually people who have a huge presence in your life. I've ready many touching YA books with main characters who have lost siblings, books like In Honor by Jessi Kirby, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, and Personal Effects by E. M. Kokie.

In Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye, Carmella's big sister Francesca has recently died of a drug overdose, and Carmella's family is falling apart at the seams. Her parents seem in denial, asking Carmella to tell people that Francesca died of a "heart condition." They take her to help them pack up the apartment that Francesca shared with her boyfriend, Donny. Then it seems to Carmella that they want to box the memory of her sister up and lose themselves in work.

I thought that Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye was a touching and realistic portrait of grief. Everyone handles loss differently, and the book showed a variety of different reactions. Carmella's parents are devout Catholics and embarrassed by their daughter's drug use. Francesca's boyfriend falls into a downward spiral of grief and guilt. Carmella tries to go back to her regular life, but finds it difficult. She knew that Francesca was experimenting with drugs, and feels horribly guilty that she didn't tell someone.

Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye had a very different feel that I've been trying to put my finger on. There's a sort of timelessness about it. Many of the characters' names -- Donny, Howie, Carmella -- felt old-fashioned. If it hadn't been for a few popular culture and technology references, this book could have taken place anytime between the 1970s and the present. This "world out of time" feel could also be because there's not a great deal of plot. While many of the "grief books" I've read have incorporated some sort of other storyline -- a road trip, a mystery to be solved --  Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye is just a portrait of one family in grief. I do think that when you're grieving, it feels like your life exists on a separate track from the rest of the world, which just keeps going on as if nothing has happened.

By far, my favorite part of the book was Howie. He comes into the bakery one day with his friend Jeremy to order a cake, and sets his sights on Francesca. She's skittish and standoffish -- Howie lives in a richer part of town and she doesn't think he can understand what she's going through. But Howie has a lot of surprises up his sleeve. He's a Jewish figure skater -- a character I've never seen before in YA -- and he doesn't give up on Carmella. Howie becomes a friend to Carmella, at first a distraction, and eventually a reminder that her sister would have wanted her to be happy.


Connect with the author:



If Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye sounds like something you'd enjoy, the author is giving away copies of the book -- you can enter in the Rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

31 comments:

  1. I read a similar article about the sibling relationship which I think is part of the reason I'm obsessed with sister stories. And consequently I've read a lot of dead sister books although this one does look interesting. Right now I need some happy books but this is one for me to keep in mind for another time.

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    1. I understand -- it's good to keep a balance in your reading!

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  2. I've seen this one about, think I entered to win a copy when it was first released but didn't win. Maybe I will have more luck this time!
    My siblings seem to be of the irritating variety at the moment, at least I don't live with them any more though! Glad you enjoyed this one jen :)

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    1. My sister irritated me for a long time, but now we get along great.

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  3. Everyone adores Howie! He is a fantastic character! I loved that he is a figure skater, that is so fresh and unique and FUN:)

    I like what you had to say about the book having a timeless feel to it. You're right, and it DID almost have a 70's vibe to it! I don't know why, but when you said that I immediately felt the same.

    I enjoyed this book too. It was a tough read at times but a very memorable one:)

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  4. This sounds really good and emotional. I love it when a book is realistic. Awesome review!!

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  5. This sounds so good! Thank you for sharing! I will have to add it to my wishlist!
    -Amber

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  6. Thanks for hosting a stop and sharing your thoughts!
    I hadn't really noticed it at the time but it does have a sort of timelessness to it.

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    1. Thanks for being such a great tour coordinator!!

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  7. Looks very touching and emotional. Great review hon.

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  8. Books about grief are always so tough to read, but this sounds really good. I love the way you describe it as feeling timeless, too--that's a rare quality in a book.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. That's true. I think some YA books try too hard to be current with slang and pop culture references that will probably be outdated before the book is even published. I'm all for timelessness!

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  9. This has been on my to-read list for a while. Great review! Thanks for sharing. ;)
    Brandy @ A Little of the Book Life

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  10. I'm always afraid to read the books about losing a sibling. I don't think I could survive it, honestly.

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    1. I always find these kind of books hard, whether the character has lost a parent or a sibling...

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  11. I found your review very helpful thank you. I think I might find this hard to read.

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  12. Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye sounds so good and something that I'd love to read. Great review, Jen and thank you for the giveaway!

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    1. The author is graciously offering all the goodies -- I should add that to my post!

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  13. I really would like to read this story....this will definitely break my heart

    josiehink122026(at)gmail.com

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  14. I have read my share of stories that involve grief. The Fault in Our Stars and the Rescue are some. But I haven't read a story that focuses mainly on grief as an after effect of the death of a loved one. It would be nice to read this as a new experience. :)

    anubisnicome(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. I haven't heard of the Rescue! I'll have to check that one out.

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  15. Howie was my favorite character too! I love that you talked about the timelessness of this book, it's not something I thought about, but I can totally sense it. And as sad as this book is, i would agree that it is a varied and accurate picture of grief. Great review.

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  16. I've read quite a few books about grief over a sibling (the one that comes to mind is Saving June) and I always have mixed reactions. As you said some end up with a side story that doesn't always deal as well with the grief IMO.

    Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye sounds more like something I would enjoy. Loved your review.

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  17. Nice review. I love book that flow with good emotion and the more realistic the better. Thanks for the giveaway too :)

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