Where Was Goodbye?

S. & S. Apr. 2024. 304p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781665903950.
Gr 8 Up–This novel starts with a trigger warning from the author, and it’s a necessary kindness. It is rough. At times the intense sorrow is an insurmountable obstacle, tangible, permeating every page with visceral weight. Readers can feel the sadness deep in their bones. But while the book is difficult, it’s a unique and necessary view of teenage mourning. It follows Karmen, whose brother died by suicide before the book begins, as she journeys to find a reason for his decision. Why is he gone? What did she miss? How can she move on? Mather deftly threads the needle between idolizing lost loved ones and acknowledging their humanity. Karmen’s brother Julian isn’t put on a pedestal. She remembers the positive memories, the happy conversations and joyous moments, but doesn’t shy away from the everyday fights and conflicts that naturally happen in families. As Karmen searches for answers, Mather lays out a stage full of despair, defiance, abandon, and peace. It’s not an easy ride, but a glimpse into the aftermath of trauma is worth the heartache.
VERDICT A potent portrait of grief and loss, for stout-of-heart teenagers only.

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