The Art of Saying Goodbye by Ellyn Bache
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins
Review copy provided by the publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Brightwood Trace, a neighborhood in suburbia similar to many others of its kind all over the country, is home to a diverse group of women who remain friends despite the fact that they are five very different people. But when Paisley, the life of the party and the glue that holds all five of them together, falls ill with terminal cancer, each of the women must find the strength to stick with Paisley through the worst of the worst. And in the process, each one of these women begins to look at her life in a whole new light.

I hate that I have to write this review in the honest way that I write all reviews. Because I wanted to like this book, I desperately did. I love novels that revolve around a group of female friends. I love novels about the every day aspects of life – the daily mundane stuff and the not-so-fun stuff like when the best person in the book gets cancer and it’s terminal. Everything about The Art of Saying Goodbye told me I would love it. But I didn’t. And here is where I will attempt to pinpoint why.

What it boils down to is the characters. I didn’t connect with any of them in a real way. I even had trouble for the first half of the book telling them each apart! Which is not a good thing. Once I figured out each of their personalities and began to separate each one from the rest, I realized that I didn’t really like them as people. They each seemed so selfish to me, in different ways and to different degrees, but they were each selfish for sure. And not selfish in the endearing, flawed character that you love anyway kind of way. They were just plain not supportive of their friend who was going through the most difficult thing a person can imagine. I didn’t understand how they (with the exception of one of them, Andrea) could call themselves Paisley’s good friends.

The other thing I wasn’t a huge fan of is that I felt that the summary provided by the publisher isn’t quite accurate. To me, it didn’t feel like any of these women made any significant transformative changes in their thinking or behaviors based on Paisley’s cancer. Sure, there were small changes, but certainly nothing earth-shattering. I guess I was just expecting more bombshells dropped or huge life events to take place and the whole novel felt sort of anti-climactic. I’m not sure how else to explain it.

I did not hate this book. I finished it, which is certainly telling – I enjoyed it enough to keep reading despite my misgivings. However, I have read many other books that revolve around a group of women and their friendships that I enjoyed quite a bit more than this one. So while it’s not the worst book ever, The Art of Saying Goodbye was not one I much enjoyed.

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