Review: The Art of Saying Goodbye by Ellyn Bache

THE ART OF SAYING GOODBYE
By Ellyn Bache
Fiction
Published June 1, 2011

She was the thread that wove their tapestry together.

With a group of women as diverse as the ladies from Brightwood Trace, you might not think them to be close. There’s Julianne, a nurse with an unsettling psychic ability that allows her to literally feel what her patients feel, Andrea, a strong fortress sheltering a faltering core, Ginger, a mother torn between being a stay-at-home mom or following her career aspirations, and Iona, the oldest, whose feisty, no-nonsense attitude disarms even toughest of the tough. Not exactly the ingredients for the most cohesive cocktail . . . Until you add Paisely, the liveliest and friendliest of the clan, who breathed life into them all.

But when their glowing leader falls ill with cancer, it’s up to these women to do what Paisely has done for them since the beginning: lift her up. Overcoming and accepting the inevitability of loss, the women draw closer than ever; finding together the strength to embrace and cherish their lives with acceptance, gratitude and most importantly, love. Finally living with the vigor that Paisely has shown them from the start, they are able to see their lives in a new light, while learning to say goodbye to the brightest star they’ve ever known. Over the course of just three months, these four women will undergo a magnificent transformation that leaves nobody unchanged.

I received this book from Librarything and loved the idea of the storyline.  After reading it, I found that the author wrote this story after going through a similiar situation several years ago in her own neighborhood.  That made it even more touching for me. 

The story takes place over 1 1/2 months in the lives of Paisley, the woman with cancer, and her neighborhood friends.  The story mostly takes place in current time with a few flashback chapters to give you the backstory.  The storyline flows easily between characters and I was easily able to identify with Andrea and Ginger in the story.  I think as you read this novel you would find yourself fitting your own friends into the characters’ identities.

At just 335 pages, this could easily be a weekend read and would be an excellent choice for book clubs.  My copy also came with discussion questions in the back of the book.  There are a lot of themes that would lead to great discussions including death, grief, friendships, alcoholism, marriage, parenting, and self-identity.

This novel is heavy in dealing with the knowledge of death looming, but there are stories mixed in that will make you laugh.  There isn’t anything shocking or too climatic to make you drop your jaw, but the story of the women itself will keep you turning the pages.

I loved the roll of the feather boa in the story.  It makes me want to run out and buy a feather boa for me and my daughter.  As the story said, “Drape it across your shoulders and dance, girls, and all the cares of the world will go away.”  Every girl needs her own feather boa. 

I also got a good laugh when one of the characters tells her teenage son, “Anyone with something dangling between their legs doesn’t need something dangling from their earlobes.”  I am going to have to remember this line…..just in case.

I also loved how all the friends and the whole neighborhood came together in one final gift and show of support for Paisley.  It was finally one way that everyone could feel like they were “doing something”.  Everyone feels helpless when someone is hurting.  There is only so much food you can make, errands to run, and hugs to give.  But, to truly DO SOMETHING makes everyone feel like they made a difference. 

Reading the story makes you think about how you will be remembered.  How do your friends view you?  What is the measure of a person’s life?  What is the measure of your life? 

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars mostly because I loved how the author took a real situation and turned it into a beautiful story of friendship. 

Thanks to HarperCollins for sending a copy of this book.  This book is my honest opinion and I was not compensated in any other way for this review.

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