I am so thrilled to be on the blog tour for Shari A. Brady's Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye. A huge thank you to Candace from Candace's Book Blog for allowing me to be a part of this tour! :) On today's stop, I am sharing my review for this novel along with a giveaway for both US and International Readers, so be sure to enter. Good Luck!
You can check out the other tour stops HERE.
Title: Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye
Author: Shari A. Brady
Rating: 3 Stars
Usually, when I give a book three stars, it tends to mirror my indifference towards the novel. In fact, even when I see three stars given out to a book, I avoid it since, to me, three stars is a relatively poor rating. When it comes to Wish I Could Say Goodbye, however, I cannot stress enough that truly, I think this book has something to offer that most other books don’t and, contrary to skipping it, you really should pick it up.
When Carmella’s older sister Francesca overdoses and dies, her world crumbles around her. Carmella is filled with guilt, knowing that her sister drank and used drugs but never telling their parents or doing anything to stop it. As time wears on, she begins to turn against her parents too who seek refuse within God and their religious societies – groups that fail to bring Carmella the peace she seeks. In the midst of this, Carmella’s best friend, is intent on double dating and when the two friends meet two guys from different schools, Howie and Jeremy, she has her wish. Carmella, although opposed to the idea of dating, especially when her mind is in so much turmoil, slowly comes to enjoy Howie’s presence and unique sense of humor. If only dealing with her sister’s death were as easy, though…
Wish I Could Say Goodbye is a poignant, heart-breaking tale. Surprisingly enough, my favorite aspect of it was the romance. Generally, romance is always something that embellishes a story for me, never the main part I choose to focus on, but the romance in this novel was just too good. Howie is completely and utterly swoon-worthy. Not only is he handsome, but he’s incredibly sweet and understanding of Carmella, loving the quirks about her and never giving up on her, even when she refuses to date him. Carmella, similarly, slowly grows to find Howie as someone more than just a friend and their developing love story was a beautiful – if minor – story arc.
Of course, the leading plot in this tale is Carmella’s relationship with her sister, Francesca. Although Francesca has died, we see glimpses of her through Carmella’s memories, but, in my opinion, not enough. What was well done, however, was how Carmella’s growth and emergence from her grief was linked to that of Francesca’s boyfriend, Danny. In Danny, Carmella sees an opportunity to correct the wrongs she did and help him stay off of drugs and alcohol and become a better person. I found their volatile relationship to be surprisingly tender and their friendship to be a monumental pivot point for them both.
Unfortunately, though, I found many other little flaws with this tale that prevented me from truly falling in love with it. For one, Carmella lies to others, especially Howie, from the very beginning of the novel. At first, they are small white lies, but soon enough, she’s making up having a fake boyfriend so she can refuse to go on a date with Howie – a date she wants to go on but can’t because she thinks her parents will disapprove and give her a hard time, like they did with Francesca. As you can expect, the accumulation of these lies makes for some drama, but my issue was that Carmella’s lying was a plot device solely to add drama and did nothing for her character.
Just to add to that, I was confused why Carmella lied in the first place. Francesca was a completely different person from Carmella and she dated different people too, making her parents reactions to her sister different from their reactions to her. Yet, she refused to listen to this voice of reason or even attempt to communicate with her parents, despite the advice of her best friend. Although I will admit that Carmella’s parents had their rough moments, on the whole, I found they were a very realistic and accurate representation of parents dealing with grief. Carmella’s father, ashamed of the manner in which his daughter died, tries to hush up the issue and move on while her mother desperately seeks peace from God, devoting herself to religion. Not only is the strained relationship between these parents evident, but so is their inability to communicate with her daughter. Carmella, on the other hand, simply jumps to conclusions about her parents, refuses to make an effort to connect with them, and all-round is the type of daughter who isn’t bad, but just thinks unreasonably. It was confusing, actually, to see her reactions to her parents and I thought their relationship in general was very disjointed. Perhaps it was purposeful, but it didn’t completely feel that way.
Nevertheless, I do think Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye is a must-read for fans of contemporary or grief novels. For me, the gentle manner in which Howie and Carmella connected is more than enough to give this a shot and despite taking on a serious issue, Brady never lets the depression oppress us, as the reader. Even better, her talk of religion never becomes preachy and barely intrudes on the story line at all. Instead, it is a simple means to represent one woman’s method of coping with grief. All in all, a very touching tale.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Shari A. Brady is a native Chicagoan and previously had so many careers she’s lost count. A graduate of Loyola University’s Business School and University of Chicago’s Creative Writing program, she’s finally a full-time writer, a dream she’s carried with her since she was twelve. She lives in suburban Chicago with two of the best kids ever and their shelter dog, Betty Queen Elizabeth. This is her first novel and her last career.