I finished reading this last night, which is why my review was not up at midnight as I usually try to do. This book was so moving. So powerful, and yet so subtle at the same time.
It touched me beyond what my own words can say, but I'm going to try.
Emily Chenoweth writes about a family here. Abby, the teenage girl. Helen, her mother, and Elliot, her father. But then the family extends to Abby's parents' closest friends.
Helen is sick. She's sick when we first meet her, but the way Chenoweth dives into the illness is graceful. It's a sudden burst, and then we are confused. But so is Helen. It is then revealed slowly, and then suddenly again.
Elliott does not reveal all to Abby. Nor does he tell Helen everything. This is something one might question, but the story itself walks us through the reasoning and we get why. Or at least I did. Our heart aches for Elliott and the life, and the wife, he once knew.
The story culminates in a week long vacation and celebration at a fancy hotel in New Hampshire. Abby is there, among the grown ups, and going through her own - what is the word I am looking for? - growing pains, perhaps. Although she has been in college and come into her own, she hangs onto her high school boyfriend because she doesn't know how not to. She rebels against the clothing her mother made her for much of her life, while borrowing outfits and accessories from girls she's just met. This week she meets a waiter. What does she want from this? She has no idea. And then there's Vic. There isn't much I can reveal about Vic. He is a return character from a past we never knew. And the entire family knows him. What a small world.
Helen is the quietest character with the fewest "chapters" throughout, but the character we watch the most. Through eyes of others, and sometimes through her own.
It's hard to say much more without giving parts of the story away, and without becoming overwhelmed with my own emotion. I cannot begin to imagine watching my own mother become as fragile as Helen was, and yet from my own personal experience that chance could have been there. But thank G-d, was not.
I think that Hello, Goodbye will rank right up there for me with Still, Alice and The Middle Place (although that was a true story and this is *mostly* fiction) as one of my favorite reads for the year. I have a strong heart, but sometimes a story sweeps me up in the emotion and I get lost in it. This book did that and I just kept on reading. There was no putting it down. If you're up for a story of family and love, and strong enough to handle the frailty of life, then Hello, Goodbye is a good pick for you.
** I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are completely my own. **