The Six Goodbye’s We Never Said by Candace Ganger Spoiler-Free Book Review

Title: The Six Goodbyes We Never Said
Author: Candace Ganger
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Publishing Date: September 24, 2019

Synopsis: Two teens meet after tragedy and learn about love, loss, and letting go
Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her heroa fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It's causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changedjust not in the way he, or she, expects.

My thoughts:

This novel is constructed very careful to bring the reader into the same atmosphere as its characters. I feel the same sort of disoriented tension this novel brings for both Dew and Naima. Both characters are struggling for their sense of reality while dealing with the death of both their parents & struggles with mental illnesses. This connection brings a strong attachment between the characters that I think is both realistic and beautiful. It’s sort of this tragic metaphorical relationship bridge both characters end up crossing towards each other in order to make sense of the world around them. BUT IT IS NOT A LOVE STORY! And because of that, I was even more enamored with this novel. 

What I liked:

Right away, I liked how Candace Ganger was able to just head straight into the bulk of the story with out all this fluff. We get down to the nitty gritty fast—AND IT’S BEAUTIFUL! I don’t want to forget to mention the author’s note before the book starts. So damn powerful. As someone who struggles with PTSD I found this novel to be touchingly authentic to the experience of it all. The main bulk of this novel frankly discusses the effects of a parent’s death, mental illness, suicide, and sexuality. Because of this we get the most realistically, flawed main characters Dew and Naima. 

Dew’s struggle with PTSD is something I connected deeply with. His chapters always starts from recordings on a little tape recorder he uses—which reminds me a little bit of how Courtney Summer’s Sadie was constructed. UGH PLEASE MAKE THIS AN AUDIOBOOK PLEASE UNIVERSE. Anyway, the parts of his personality where he fumbles and struggles to maintain normalcy in the struggles of mental illness really made me ache for him. I loved how tenacious his character is in the face of adversity. His relationship with his adoptive sister Faith was also too pure for this world, be right back...I’m still teary-eyed about it.

Furthermore, we need to discuss how Naima’s character is unlikable and headstrong...and that’s what makes me connect with her. Her chapters are always starting with her father’s haunting voicemails and her unsent emails to him. It really sets the tone for how Naima has been feeling for a long time. She is fragile and fucked up and working on it. I FEEL YOU GIRL! She’s so damn resilient but she’s also impatient & stubborn. I like a main female character that isn’t the same generic cuts we get nowadays—this girl has got real raw shit to deal with. My favorite quote, that really sealed my affections from her character was “I’m fat. Not pudgy or plump. Not thick or curvy. I was born with gorgeous, insulated layers. I’ll likely always have them and I’m good with that. Handing me something three sizes too small wasn’t his way of trying to change me. Maybe it didn’t occur to him because I’m just me. And anyway, when I look in the mirror, I see my worth. I’m capable, strong, fierce. I’m a goddamn beautiful powerhouse not to be fucked with. You don’t have to be thin to love yourself (fact), and I love my body, for the record. It’s my mind I take issue with.” 


What I didn’t like:

I think the composition of with the voice recordings, voicemails, & emails could’ve been slightly woven together with more ease(but this may have changed in the final copy of the book). I would have also liked to see more development of the side characters in this novel. Violet & Faith really stole my heart with their vibrant personalities.

Overall, I’m impressed with the composition & themes of The Six Goodbye’s We Never Said by Candace Ganger. She takes a bold leap writing an Own Voices novel like this—and it pays off. We get realistic characters, deep human struggles, and a silver lining of hope to healing.

***Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martins Press for approving me of this eARC in exchange for an honest review.***