Published by Wednesday Books on September 24th 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Coming of Age
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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 hero—a 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 changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.
Candace Ganger's Six Goodbyes We Never Said is no love story. If you ask Naima, it’s not even a like story. But it is a story about love and fear and how sometimes you need a little help to be brave enough to say goodbye.
“Everyone needs that person. The one who sees you stuck between the minute and the hour hands of your most painful moments, and reaches out for you.”
This is one of those books that sneaks up on you. I started it after a few intense reads and struggled a bit with connecting to Naima so I set it aside for a few days, took a breath, and restarted. And then BAM! I’m so glad I picked it back up on the weekend because once I restarted I couldn’t put it down. This book took hold of me, took a piece of my heart, and just reflecting on it now has me tearing up. It’s one of the most powerful YA books I’ve ever read and probably the first time I’ve ever read a book where I wished I wasn’t the empath I am. But I’m enriched for having read it and am in awe of Candace Ganger.
At the center of the story are Naima Rodriguez and Andrew “Dew” GD Brickman. Two souls on the same hellish collision course with the worst thing in life, death. They are both experiencing tremendous and ferociously palpable grief that drives their paths towards and yet away from each other. Naima, traumatized by loss and life is riddled by OCD, GAD, and PTSD. Dew shares many of the same inflictions and as similar as their situations are, couldn’t be more different. But trust me, you need to get to know them. There’s something in both of them that the reader can connect with, you’ll want to experience their journey and see them safely off on their paths toward happiness and health.
I really can’t stress how incredibly well this book is written. Ganger’s writing is prolific and beautiful. Her style is clever and makes the story the immersive experience it is. My heart clenches at the thought of it, of Naima and Dew ‘s pain, of the cathartic release it inspired in me – yes, that response! This is a book worthy of the 5++ star, re-read status. And as for those books that I and those books that I thought were intense, just fell a notch a two in comparison.
~Review by Cyndi
Purchase via MacMillan
Hello, dear reader.
I think it should be known that, while Six Goodbyes is a work of fiction, I share the many characteristics, fears, and pains, in both the delicacy of Dew, and the confused ferocity in Naima. Please let this brief note serve as a trigger warning in regards to mental illness; self-care is of the utmost importance. And while I hope Six Goodbyes provides insight for those who don’t empa- thize, or comfort for those that do, I also understand everyone reacts differently.
Dew’s social anxiety is something I, and many others, struggle with. We carry on with our days and pretend it’s not as hard as it feels inside. Others can’t quite see how much it hurts but we so wish they could. Naima is the most visceral interpretation of all of my diagnosed disorders combined. Her obsessive-compulsive dis- order (OCD) and related tics, her intrusive thoughts, her utterly devastating and isolating depression, her generalized anxiety dis- order (GAD), which makes her so closed off from the world, and her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from losing the biggest portion of her identity—those are all pieces of me. Very big pieces. They don’t define me, but it would be misleading if I didn’t ad- mit they sometimes, mostly do. I’m imperfectly complicated like Naima. And though I’ve written extensively on both my mental illnesses and living biracial, between two worlds—never enough of one or the other; always only half of something and never whole or satiated—I often still feel misunderstood. Hopefully Dew and Naima’s stories will provide a little insight as to what it’s like inside their heads, and inside mine.
Both Dew and Naima want to hold on to the roots that have grounded them in their familiar, safe spaces. But once their meta- phorical trees are cut, and all the leaves shielding them from their pains have fallen and faded away, not even photosynthesis could bring them back to life. Those roots, Naima and Dew feel, will die off, and everything they had in their lives before will, too. There are many of you out there who feel the exact same way, but I assure you, Dew and Naima will find their way— they will grow new roots that flourish—and you, my darlings, will, too.
Thank you for reading, and may Six Goodbyes serve as per- mission to speak your truths—the good and the painful.
Here’s to another six airplanes for you to wish upon.