Melanie, a perfectionist mom who views the approaching end of parenting as a type of death, can’t believe she has only one more year to live vicariously through her slacker senior son, Dane. Gorgeous mom Sarah has just begun to realize that her only daughter, Ashley, has been serving as a stand-in for her traveling husband, and the thought of her daughter leaving for college is cracking the carefully cultivated façade of her life. Will and his wife are fine―as long as he follows the instructions on the family calendar and is sure to keep secret his whole other life with Lauren, the woman he turns to for fun (and who also happens to have a daughter in the senior class).Told from the points of view of both the parents and the kids, The Goodbye Year explores high school peer pressure, what it’s like for young people to face the unknown of life after high school, and how a transition that should be the beginning of a couple’s second act together―empty nesting―might possibly be the end.
I had never heard of Kaira Rouda, and I was very interested in reading this book simply based on the cover of the book and the description on the back. When The Goodbye Year arrived, it looked interesting but I had several other great books, so this one ended up being last. Its order in my reading schedule by no means was intended to reflect the quality of the book. Now that I’ve read this book, I’m eager to see what else Kaira has written so I can read those books as well!
The Goodbye Year follows seven kids and five families through the senior year of high school. Each of these families seem to be hiding secrets behind closed doors and it takes an incident at school for everything to come crashing down. Ms. Rouda makes it so easy for readers to understand each of the characters and their thinking too as she alternates between the children and the parents’ views.
At first I was a bit overwhelmed to think about trying to keep track of five separate families at the same time, but this book drew me in and kept me curious to learn what was going to happen. The Goodbye Year shows us that even if you have all the money in the world, you don’t have your lives all together and that money doesn’t keep the secrets hidden. The situations in this book are easily related to because the things that happen are happening to people on a daily basis. I could easily see a sequel to this book too, maybe of the kids graduating college in the future!
The Goodbye Year definitely covered a multitude of real life issues too spanning from the obvious empty nest syndrome to infidelity, alcoholism, drug abuse and some other things that I can’t reveal here. (Remember, I don’t write spoilers.) It was really awesome to see how the events in this story brought certain characters together in this story. Some of the characters are much more likable than others, which helped make the story believable.
I’m glad that the “goodbye year” before my empty nest set in didn’t happen like it happened in this story, but then again, mine wouldn’t have made such a great story for such an interesting read. I think this book would be a great book club read too, as I could just hear the discussion in my head just thinking about that group!
Thanks to BookSparks for the advance reader’s digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review as part of their April Showers Blog Tour -#itsrainingbooks!