This book wrecked me. It inspired me. It moved me. It gave me all the feels…
I absolutely loved it.
Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the housekeeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-Abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way
It may not be the most obvious re-telling and I don’t know whether it was meant to be a re-telling, but It Starts With Goodbye comes across as a cinderella story re-telling. With the step-mother and step-sister who don’t seem to respect or like Tate, the piles of work that Tate seems to find herself in, and then the grandmother who acts like the fairy godmother. I think it’s because it wasn’t the most obvious re-telling that I really enjoyed it. I don’t like straight up re-tellings because everything seems a bit obvious, but when it’s re-tellings such as The Lunar Chronicles, Hunted or Spindle Fire that are re-tellings with massive twists, then I’m all for them. (Jeez… ignore the number of times I said ‘re-tellings’ in that paragraph. I didn’t know another word for it!)
Another thing that I absolutely loved about this book was that Tate was into graphic design. I love it when the protagonists have a really interesting hobby. I love graphic designing so when I read Tate designing websites for people or business cards and logos, I was in my element and I loved reading about her doing it for other people and seeing her make money by doing what she loves.
“Scalding my skin, they dripped down my cheeks silently. I cried for the girl whose voice remained unheard, who did her best to be good but didn’t always get it right. I cried for the girl constantly trying to forge a connection, to find someone who took her at face value and didn’t ask her to be something she wasn’t. I cried for the doors that had closed and cried for the ones that might never open. I cried out of want, out of thirst for something nameless, my heart beating itself into a frenzy, my body completely boneless beneath the sheets, now heated and damp.”
– Christina June, It Started With Goodbye
The characters were also so well-written! I thought Bélen was incredibly three-dimensional and I loved how we got to learn more about her from Blanche; it added so many layers to the character and makes you think about the different ways that you can take someone’s actions or words. There is also some diversity that can be found within the book. Tatum’s stepmom and step-grandmother are immigrants from Chile (which is a place that I never really see mentioned in YA), her stepsister is half Chilean/half white, and SK is half Irish/half Kenyan and the son of immigrants. These diverse secondary characters added a whole other element of the story; it made it different. And the diverseness of the book didn’t seem forced, which I absolutely loved.
This book takes you on an incredible journey of self-discovery, friendship and family, and finding out that doing what makes you happy is always the best thing to do. It teaches you to put the past behind you and forgive, to see someone else’s point of view without judging, and to always hold onto the ones that you love most.
Disclaimer: this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review