Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye Blog Tour:
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway

Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye blog tour is hosted by CBB Book Promotions
See the full tour schedule HERE

Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye
By Shari A. Brady

Read: January 28-29, 2013
Published: June 11th 2012 by Createspace
Source: Gift from author in exchange for an honest review
Category: Contemporary YA

Before my older sister Francesca died, I worked at the bakery and wrote songs, but now I write lists. Lists like ten reasons why it's my fault Francesca's dead, or five reasons why I should try and win Howie back, or one reason why I need to stop lying to everyone, including myself.

Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye is an extraordinary novel about one family's struggle to make sense of their world after losing a family member to addiction. Through sixteen-year-old Carmella's eyes, we witness the courage and strength it takes to overcome the consequences of grief, guilt and co-dependency. WIth conviction and determination, Carmella shows us what can happen when we're open to love, feel the pain of our loss, and find the courage to accept the truth of our lives.
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Carmella’s family is falling apart. Her sister Francesca recently died of an accidental drug overdose. Her father doesn’t want anyone to know that drugs were involved, and has told Carmella to make up a new reason for anyone who asks. Her mom has decided that everything is going to be fine as long as she attends church and confession more, or at least she will make it look like everything is fine. Both of Carmella’s parents are determined that their only remaining child will not go down the same Road To Ruin as their oldest daughter. Translation: They have become increasingly strict with Carmella. It is no wonder that Carmella is a mess. She’s also pretty sure she could have prevented her sister’s death somehow.

Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye is a moving look at grief in one family after it is rocked by an unexpected death. Guilt, anger, blame, shame, depression, suppression, resentment, are all emotions that Carmella and her parents are faced with after Francesca dies. After her sister is gone, Carmella goes from working in a bakery, altering her own clothes and writing music, to alienating friends, lying to everyone and feeling completely lost. 

It took me a while to piece together what Carmella was like before Francesca’s death, and I wish that I had been able to see a full picture of her ‘before’ life earlier in the story. I think that may have helped me connect to her better. It is also hinted that Carmella had been dealing with school and social issues before her sisters death, but they were never really explored enough for me to get a complete picture of their impact on her. In any case, it is clear that the 'after' Carmella is extremely depressed and on a downward spiral of grief from which she's afraid she'll never escape.  

The one bright spot in Carmella’s life is Howie, a boy she meets one day in the bakery where she works. Although he has faced his own share of loss, his humor, love of art and determination to get to know Carmella, begin to show her that it is possible to find happiness again. I loved Howie. He was sweet, honest and a figure skater. Plus he understood Carmella – and was not mysterious! I have never read a story with a figure skating love interest, and I certainly wouldn’t mind more of them. I’ll even forgive him for his perpetual shorts wearing behavior. Howie and Carmella’s relationship develops slowly, and it was definitely my favorite part of this story.

Despite Howie’s positive spirit, Carmella continued her downward spiral of depression throughout most of this book. And as much as I wanted her to snap out of it, I think it was a realistic look at the overwhelming grief and confusion one can face when a loved one dies unexpectedly. Unfortunately, Carmella's parents did nothing to help her heal. They were so blinded by their own grief and determination to appear as if they were fine, that they were unable to see that their remaining daughter desperately needed them to love her. Carmella’s parents made me CRAZY. 

Thankfully, both Carmella and her parents did finally wake up to their behavior. However, I wish that Carmella’s turn around had happened a bit sooner in the story so that we could have seen more of her strength at the end of the book. I also would have liked there to have been a more clearly defined resolution between Carmella and her parents. Instead it was like they were all of a sudden different, which I didn’t trust after the way that they treated Carmella throughout the story.  

Death is confusing, messy and rarely ever happens in a way that gives closure to those left behind. It is even harder when the person who is gone could have done something to prevent it - like not taking drugs in Francesca's case. Of course life and addictions are never that simple. In the end it is the living who have to find a way to keep moving forward, and that is exactly the struggle that Carmella faces in Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye. Although I will admit to becoming frustrated with Carmella at times during this story, I also think that her journey through this book is both heartbreaking and true. It is also hopeful. I wish Carmella and her family nothing but the best. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone

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Excerpt From Chapter 16

   “Mello? Are you awake?” Anna whispers from the top bunk.
   “I am awake, but I’m floating. Do you think this is what love feels like?”
   “No clue. I’ve never been in love.”
   “Me neither.”
   “Anna?”
   “Yeah?”
   “This is the first time since Francesca died and I’ve opened my eyes and she wasn’t the first thing I thought about. I feel horrible.”
   “I think she’d understand. You’re thinking of her now, right?”
   “Yeah.”
   “So, what’d you think of first?”
    “Howie.”
   Anna laughs. “Knew it. Francesca would totally understand. You had a hot and heavy make out session with the love of your life. Mello, it was your first real kiss and it lasted all night. You totally lucked out.”
   I take a deep breath, and hold my hand up in the air, imagining Howie holding it, the two of us lying next to each other. “Yeah, I did, didn’t I?” I remember Anna and I talking last night about Jeremy. “Hey, sorry you and Jeremy didn’t hit it off quite the same way.”
   “No joke. I like Jeremy a lot, don’t get me wrong. But the kiss. Oh my God. Yick.”
   I’m on the bottom bunk, so I slide out and plop down on the pink beanbag chair so I can face Anna. It crunches as I sink. I lay my head back, the memory of last night still swirling around me like smoke does in a cartoon. I snap myself out of my love dream and back to reality. I realize what Anna said.
   I sit up. “Anna. Was the kiss that bad?”
   Anna sits straight up, her head almost touching the sky blue ceiling with puffy white clouds she and her sisters painted one weekend. “Ugh. Soooo bad, Mello.” Anna puts her face in her hands, her blond hair hiding her for a second.
   She pushes her hair behind her ears. “I mean, how can a guy can be so drop dead cute and be such a shitty kisser?”
   “Speaking of shitty, your face looks like you just ate shit.”
   Anna throws her pillow at me and we both crack up. “That’s how horrible the kiss was. Just thinking about it makes me want to barf.”
   I grab my sides, cracking up so hard I can hardly breathe. When we finally stop laughing, we rehash all the details of last night, retelling every moment.
   “We totally have to make a list,” I say to Anna.
   “Awesome idea. What’s wrong? You look funny all of the sudden.”
   “I just realized something.”
   “What?”
   “This will be the first list I’ve ever made with someone besides Francesca.”
   “And …”
   “I feel like I’m ditching her.”
   “Well you aren’t. She’d want this for you.”
   I blink at Anna.
   “You can’t live in black for the rest of your life, Mello. She would want you to be happy. So you start.”
   “I’m not in the mood now.”
   “Fine, I’ll start,” she says. “One: doing the Rocky Horror Picture Show dance.” Anna cracks herself up trying to do dance while sitting.
   I can’t resist her shaking around.
   “Okay, two: Howie putting the chalk on your nose.”
   Anna laughs. “You two totally came out of his cave just so he could do that to me, didn’t you?”
   “Yeah, we did.”
   Anna puts her finger up in the air.
   “Three: first ever real French champagne,” she says.
   “Zsa,” I say.
   “Four: Mello’s first kiss.”
   “Not my first kiss,” I say.
   “Okay, your first true love kiss. So James the scum bag creep gets erased from your memory.” Anna waves her hand like she’s got a wand.
   “Five: thankful that Anna’s kiss happened at the total end of the night.” I point to Anna.
   “Oh yeah.” She points back.
   Anna’s phone goes off, blaring some country song. Anna jumps off the top bunk and lunges for her phone. “Shit.”
   “Jeremy?”
   “Yep.”
   “Mello. Now what am I going to do? This is like going out with Rob Pattinson and he ends up being the worst kisser ever. Oh my God, I’m totally getting grossed out right now by the thought of his squirmy little tongue.” Anna shivers.
   I bust out laughing. “Anna, now you’re grossing me out.”
   “I’m telling you, it felt like a worm or something.”
   “Ew. Anna. Stop.”
    Anna and I hug our sides in uncontrollable laughter. 
   Anna reads the text and throws her phone down. “He’s wondering what I’m doing tonight.”
   “Anna.”
   “Mello.”
   “What are you gonna do?”
   “No clue. I loved our double date thing. But I can’t kiss him again.”
   “Tell him you’ve decided to become a nun.”
   “Mello. Be serious. I’m in trouble here. This is crisis. Any other non-smart-ass suggestions?”
   “Truth?”
   We both wince at the same time.
   “I’ll devastate him. What if some other girl likes the way he kisses?”
   “Yick. What are you gonna do?”
   Anna chews on her thumb. “I dunno. I’m gonna ask one of my sisters.”

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.




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15 comments:

  1. Yep, you and I are definitely on the same page with this book, L:) And I also loved Howie! I could definitely get used to more figure skating male leads in the books I read if they are as great as Howie:)

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    1. Oh Howie *sigh." I love guys that can rock those artistic sports. Remember that part at the party when he teaches Carmella how to dance. Love a man who can move well ;). Anyway, I digress. Yes we are definitely in agreement about this book!

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    2. Teaches her to dance and SKATE! Perfect:)

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  2. I love Howie too! The romance in this book was different than usual, I liked that it wasn't so much the center of the plot. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book!
    Thanks so much for hosting a stop and reviewing the book!

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    1. Yes. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the romance here, and that the author made Howie different than a lot of boys in YA. We need more like him. Thanks for having me on the tour!

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  3. Haha, I love that Howie wasn't mysterious! And a figure skater? That's so different. He sounds like a great male lead just from your review but this book sounds like a heartbreaker. I like that it had a hopeful feeling at the end.

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    1. I am still confused about the mysterious thing. But whenever I find someone who I know is NOT, I think of you and point it out. Howie makes this book great. I would recommend it just for him. But the subject matter is tough. Thankfully, it does have a positive message overall.

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  4. Amazing review, Lauren! I just LOVED Howie, like you did, and the romance was easily the best part of the novel. Like you, I feel like the ending left so much to be desired. It was practically an unresolved ending, in some ways, so that did throw me off a little. Still, a cute, short, and engaging read. I wouldn't even mind a novella from Howie's PoV! ;)

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    1. Yes. We are in agreement about this one. I know this is silly, but I keep wondering what Carmella was going to play with her guitar at the end. Had she written a song? WICHSG is definitely one of those books that I ended and flipped back to see if I missed something. Maybe we will hear from Howie again. I like to think that he and Mello are happy somewhere skating together.

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  5. I just read Heather's review and now I'm seeing yours--I have to check this one out, I think! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it despite some reservations, Lauren.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. Yes this one was quite heavy, but I did enjoy it overall, especially Howie (as you can tell!). Have you read THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE? It has some similar themes, and is one of my favorite looks at grief in this genre.

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  6. This book sounds heartbreaking!

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