Monday, June 20, 2011

Hello Goodbye

Hello Goodbye: A Novel (P.S.)Author: Emily Chenoweth
ISBN: 978-0-06-203460-1
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Source: TLC Book Tours
Scheduled Tour Stops: Follow the Tour


In the summer after her freshman year of college, Abby Hansen embarks on what might be a final vacation with her parents to a historic resort in northern New Hampshire. The Presidential Hotel, with its stately rooms and old-fashioned dress code, seems almost unbearably stuffy to Abby, but the young, free-spirited hotel staff offers her the chance for new friendships, and maybe even romance.

However, for her parents, Elliott and Helen, their time spent together in the shadow of the White Mountains has taken on a deeper meaning. By inviting family friends to join them, they open their marriage up to a lifetime of confessions, and they must confront a secret about Helen’s health that they have been hiding from their daughter.

Heartbreaking and luminous, Hello Goodbye deftly explores a family’s struggle with love and loss, as a summer vacation becomes an occasion for awakening.


One of the hardest things about reviewing a book is writing a review when you didn’t love the book. Unfortunately Hello Goodbye is one of those reviews for me. Though the synopsis intrigued me, the book itself sadly lacked. The author has a writing style that holds appeal if you appreciate description and thoughts of a lyrical nature. The writing is also clean and crisp. The book is well edited. The entire story takes place over the course of the family vacation but reflects on the past as well.

My problem with this book lies in the plot or absence of it. The book is fiction though based off the authors real life events. There is a note to the reader in the back that explains why the book is written as a fiction rather than a memoir. I felt this title might have been better written as a memoir. I think the author could have branched out past just the family vacation and written about what it was like to have a mother diagnosed with brain cancer and all that goes along with it. The story as a fiction lacked in plot and intrigue. I kept waiting for the “lifetime of confessions” and “confrontation of a secret about Helen’s health” only to be disappointed. The secret wasn’t really a secret since the reader is well aware of it. The synopsis also made it sound like both parents knew when really the secret is only held by the father in this story. I didn’t ever read anything that fit the description “a lifetime of confessions.” It was a very depressing story and had no real ending. When I finished reading the book I was unsatisfied.

The author has an ability to write. The book was very descriptive which might work well for someone who didn’t grow up in the White Mountains of NH. For me, the book didn’t do NH justice. I felt the beauty of the area was overshadowed by this fog that I couldn’t quite place. I was unattached to this book. The writing told the story but somehow didn’t complete it. There was no real depth to this story, though the emotional turmoil ran deep. I felt the story was more of a reflective narrative than a fictional story. I also felt displaced and unattached from the characters.

Overall, I was disappointed. It was hard to keep focused on this book and took me awhile to read it. I kept hoping that if I kept reading my feelings would change or something would happen to surprise me or add to the story. It didn’t. I choose books I think I’ll enjoy based on my interest because who wants to read a book that doesn’t interest them? I really thought I would like this one but it didn’t turn out to be for me. If you’re a fan of lyrical writing, descriptive writing or thoughtful narrative this one just might be for you. If you’re looking for something fast paced with a highly developed plot this one is not for you. I appreciate being given the opportunity to be part of this tour and wish the author the best of luck in the future.

About Emily Chenoweth

Emily Chenoweth is a former fiction editor of Publishers Weekly. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Bookforum, and People, among other publications. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

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