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Monday, January 25, 2016

The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley

The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley begins with this statement:

The first thing you should know is that everyone lies.
The second thing is that it matters.

Indeed they do and indeed it does.  Everyone lies or omits in this book and it does matter.  Our tale is one of two families.  The fathers are brothers and each includes a teenage daughter.  These girls, Arden and Rory, are very close.  Born only 4 months apart, they are quite different in personality.  Rory is outgoing, popular, driven - Harvard bound.  Arden is the artistic cousin.  She's smart and shy and seems mostly in Rory's shadow.  She wants to go to California to art school.  However, the college plans of both girls will go awry due to financial issues.  They begin their freshman year at a small state college.

As the book opens, the parents each receive a phone call.  Their daughters have been injured in a fire at their dorm and are being taken to a local hospital.  Another student has died and the police are investigating for arson.  The Good Goodbye is told from 3 points of view - Arden, Rory, and Natalie, Arden's mother.  Most of the present action is set in the hospital as Arden and Rory remain unconscious in intensive care, critically injured.  We gradually find out more and more secrets as the narrative switches from character to character.

Natalie would have said that she knew her daughter and her niece so very, very well.  She knows some things.  She doesn't know many, many more.  Each character has something to hide and the story winds back and back and back.  These two families have been very intertwined, but sometimes weeds and thorns grow into the garden and are not removed.  There they remain choking out the seeds that were planted with such love.  Everyone lies.

I liked this book a lot.  And I enjoyed the format, though some might not be as fond of the method the author used to tell the story.  I like puzzling through the clues and deciding which secret might be most important or might even exist at all.  It reminded me a little of Rosamund Lupton's Afterwards, another book set mostly in a hospital after a fire, with a mother finding out all kinds of things about her teenage daughter.  The Good Goodbye related a situation that is one of a parent's worst fears - their child in a hospital ICU.  It was poignant and scary.  We feel for Natalie as she sits beside the bed trying to find one little spot where she can touch her daughter.  The revelations of the hidden parts of each family's life were suspenseful.  I wanted to know the answer to the questions posed - arson?  Who?  Why?

Interestingly enough, Carla Buckley wrote part of this book sitting at the bedside of her college-age son, after he was in an accident.  She related in an interview that she was on a book tour when she got a call from her husband about their son's accident and dropped everything to go to him.  She had already begun writing The Good Goodbye, but here she was experiencing the story firsthand.  No wonder the emotions in the book rang true to me.

So, was I pleased with The Good Goodbye?  Yes, I was.  I've read another book by this author, The Things That Keep Us Here, and also liked it very much.  Now I want to read the two books she's written in between.  And I look forward to possibly seeing Carla Buckley on a panel at a mystery conference soon - even meeting her!  Can't wait!

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I think I'll add here that I wrote Carla Buckley and told her how much I enjoyed The Good Goodbye.  I also told her that I hoped her son had recovered well.  She very kindly wrote back and thanked me for my note.  She also said that her son has recovered and is 100%.  He is taking a semester abroad in his studies and enjoying it very much.  I'm so pleased to hear that and wish him well!

26 comments:

  1. I enjoyed your review Kay and wonder what lies were told. It is interesting the the author was experiencing her own son being in the hospital why writing this book.

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    1. Yes, I had no idea until I went looking for info about Carla Buckley. And, yes, there were a lot of lies by the characters. Some with good intentions and some not so much.

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  2. I have the Things That Keep Us Here and AFterwards on my TBR List. We really do have similar taste :-)

    This one sounds good and I enjoy books told from multiple narrators.

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    1. Yes, Marce, I think you and I can agree that we share many of the same tastes in reading. That's part of what I've found so fun about blogging and connecting with others. I've found my reading clones. LOL

      I bet you would like The Things That Keep Us Here and I'm pretty sure you'd really like Afterwards. Just saying...

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  3. I really, really enjoyed the one Carla Buckley novel I read and have always been meaning to get back to some of her other books. It sounds like this is one I definitely should make an effort to read!

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    1. Michelle, I think you'd appreciate the whole teen/parent angle a lot. I'm definitely going to be reading this author's other 2 books that I haven't picked up yet.

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    1. No, no, Nan doesn't lie. I know that. But....most people do. LOL

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  5. I've read two books by Ms. Buckley so I'm looking forward to this one also. It should be an interesting read what with her personal take on it and the convoluted way that the story is told.
    p.s. glad to see you back blogging :)

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    1. Thanks, Rita! Glad to see you back too. And I'm betting you will like this one when you get to it. It just had a special feel to it.

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  6. I loved The Deepest Secret and this sounds just as good. She is so good at creating complex characters and keeping the suspense and tension going as she reveals a little at a time all the while keeping the story and characters interesting. I will definitely be looking for this one.

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    1. Wendy, you described it perfectly. And...I think you'd like this one.

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  7. I really want to try this author but I'm not sure I can manage this one. The bedside scene you mention just twists at me and I haven't even read it! I think maybe having a daughter whose the same age as these girls make it a little too close? I am glad to hear you enjoyed this one and she sounds like an amazing author. I just might start on another book!

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    1. I could see that being an issue, Katherine. You might want to try another one. She has 3 more.

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  8. Oh my goodness the story behind the book sounds like an awful coincidence! I do like the sound of this one, enjoyed Afterwards too.

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    1. Oh, yes, I definitely liked Afterwards. The boy has recovered, but yes, quite an ordeal.

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  9. This does sound like a good book, told in an interesting way. Not the type of book I would usually read, but I may give it a try.

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    1. You might take a look at the sample pages on Amazon or something like that Tracy.

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  10. This sounds good and the premise definitely have me intrigued. I'm glad to hear Carla's son has recovered.

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    1. Yes, I was glad to hear that too. It was an suspenseful story for sure.

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  11. Really good review. I must read this!

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  12. Great review, Kay! Makes me want to read it badly...another one for my wish list!! I'm so curious to find out what the secrets and lies were.

    P.S. It was so sweet of you to write the author, and for her to respond. I'm happy that her son is doing well.

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    1. Well, I just wanted to tell her how much I liked the book and then thought I would ask about the son too. So glad to hear he recovered and is now again about his college pursuits.

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  13. Oh wow, this definitely sounds good. How awful it must have been for her to go through that experience with her son. Hopefully it was also sort of cathartic for her to incorporate some of the experience in her book.

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    1. I think it definitely affected the way she wrote the book. I was glad to hear that her son has recovered well.

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