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A Heartwrenching Tale of Grief, Loss, and Healing: "Where Was Goodbye?" by Janice Lynn Mather

Grab a box of tissues and brace yourself for an emotional rollercoaster because "Where Was Goodbye?" by Janice Lynn Mather is not just a book; it's an experience. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and set to release on April 30, 2024, this young adult novel dives deep into the heart-wrenching subject of suicide and the aftermath left in its wake. Written in Mather's soulful and evocative style, it brings a new perspective to a timely and important topic—mental health awareness.


Book "Where was Goodbye?" by Janice Lynn Mather

Book "Where was Goodbye?" by Janice Lynn Mathers

Title: Where was Goodbye?

Author: Janice Lynn Mather

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pub. Date: April 30, 2024

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 304

Buy links: Amazon, Goodreads


A teen girl searches for closure after her brother dies by suicide in this breathtaking novel for fans of Erika L. Sánchez’s "I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter" and Sarah Everett’s "How to Live without You” (Booklist, starred review).


Karmen is about to start her last year of high school, but it’s only been six weeks since

her brother, Julian, died by suicide. How is she supposed to focus on school when

huge questions loom: Why is Julian gone? How could she have missed seeing his pain?

Could she have helped him?


When a blowup at school gets Karmen sent home for a few weeks, life gets more

complicated: things between her parents are tenser than ever, her best friend’s

acting like a stranger, and her search to understand why Julian died keeps coming up

empty.


New friend Pru both baffles and comforts Karmen, and there might finally be something happening with her crush, Isaiah, but does she have time for either, or are they just more distractions? Will she ever understand Julian’s struggle and tragedy? If not, can she love—and live—again?


Reviews:


"Readers will enjoy the book’s satisfying plot and thematic endings. Hand to fans of Erika L. Sánchez’s I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (2017) and Sarah Everett’s How to Live without You (2022), whether they enjoyed the mystery, the mental-health focus, or the true-to-life voices." -- Booklist, STARRED Review ― 4/15/24



"This wrenching novel is absolutely compelling, with a vulnerable, sympathetic narrator whose journey toward healing is tenderly conveyed." -- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books


"Mather writes about depression and anxiety without judgment, and her depiction of Karmen’s survivor’s guilt...is handled with considerable nuance and empathy. A moving look at a sister’s flawed, heartfelt attempts to heal in the wake of emotional devastation." -- Kirkus Reviews


"A unique and necessary view of teenage mourning." -- School Library Journal


 

My Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


"Where Was Goodbye?" by Janice Lynn Mather is an unforgettable young adult novel that delves deep into the harrowing aftermath of suicide. Karmen, a high school senior, is left grappling with the loss of her brother, Julian, to suicide just six weeks before her final year begins. As she navigates the tumultuous waves of grief, guilt, and unanswered questions, Mather’s poignant storytelling offers readers a raw and authentic portrayal of coping with unimaginable loss. With new friendships and potential romance on the horizon, Karmen's journey is a powerful exploration of love, life, and the search for understanding.


Plot Summary


Karmen is about to start her last year of high school, but the shadow of her brother Julian's recent suicide looms large over her life. It's only been six weeks since Julian's death, and Karmen is struggling with the huge, unanswerable questions: Why is Julian gone? How could she have missed his pain? Could she have helped him? These questions aren't just about finding closure; they're about Karmen trying to find her own footing in a world that feels shattered.


A blowup at school gets her sent home for a few weeks, adding to her already complex life. Her parents are on edge, their marriage strained by grief. Her best friend seems like a stranger, and Karmen's quest to understand Julian's death keeps hitting dead ends. Amidst this chaos, new friend Pru enters her life, offering both bafflement and comfort. Meanwhile, there might be something brewing with her long-time crush, Isaiah, but Karmen isn't sure if she can handle these new dynamics or if they're just distractions from her overwhelming grief.


Themes and Emotional Depth


"Where Was Goodbye?" isn't just a story about dealing with the loss of a loved one to suicide; it's a profound exploration of grief, guilt, and the journey towards healing. Mather doesn't shy away from the tough questions and emotions. Instead, she embraces them, presenting them through Karmen's raw and honest perspective. This approach makes the novel incredibly relatable for anyone who's ever grappled with loss, particularly the devastating, incomprehensible loss of a loved one to suicide.


One of the standout aspects of Mather's storytelling is her ability to capture the nuances of grief. Karmen's feelings of guilt, confusion, and anger are palpable. Her journey isn't linear; it's a series of ups and downs, moments of clarity followed by bouts of despair. This realistic portrayal of grief makes "Where Was Goodbye?" a powerful tool for readers who may be dealing with similar experiences, offering a sense of understanding and solidarity.


Character Development


Karmen's character is beautifully developed, making her pain and growth deeply resonant. Her struggle to find answers about Julian's death is heart-wrenching, yet her gradual realization that some questions may never be answered is portrayed with great sensitivity. Karmen’s interactions with Pru and Isaiah add layers to her character, showing her capacity for connection even in her darkest times. Pru, in particular, stands out as a character who is both mysterious and comforting, embodying the idea that new relationships can emerge from the ashes of tragedy.


Writing Style


Janice Lynn Mather's writing is nothing short of lyrical. Her ability to convey complex emotions with subtlety and grace is impressive. The narrative flows smoothly, drawing readers into Karmen's world and keeping them engaged from start to finish. Mather's descriptions are vivid, her dialogue authentic, and her pacing perfect. This combination ensures that readers are not just passive observers but active participants in Karmen's journey.


A Personal Connection


For those of us who've experienced the ripple effects of suicide in our own lives, "Where Was Goodbye?" hits close to home. As someone who witnessed a friend's family go through the unimaginable pain of losing a child to suicide, I found this book incredibly moving. It brought back memories of the unanswered questions, the what-ifs, and the profound sense of loss that lingers long after the initial shock. Mather's novel is a reminder that while the pain never fully disappears, it's possible to find moments of light and connection amid the darkness.


Conclusion


"Where Was Goodbye?" is a must-read for anyone grappling with the loss of a loved one to suicide or anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the complexities of grief. It's a poignant, beautifully written novel that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page. Janice Lynn Mather has crafted an unforgettable story that not only highlights the importance of mental health awareness but also offers a message of hope and resilience. So, keep that box of tissues handy, and dive into this remarkable tale—it's a journey worth taking.


Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me this moving and insightful book for an honest review. To share this powerful story with more readers, I’m hosting a giveaway! Enter for a chance to win a copy of "Where Was Goodbye?" and experience Karmen’s journey of healing and hope.


 

About Janice Lynn Mather:


author of "Where was Goodbye?"
Janice Lynn Mather

JANICE LYNN MATHER (she/her/hers) is a Bahamian Canadian author. Her first novel, Learning to Breathe, was a Governor General’s Award finalist, a Sheila A. Egoff

Children’s Literature Prize finalist, shortlisted for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award, an ALA/YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection, an Amelia Bloomer Book List pick, and a Junior Library Guild Selection. Her second novel, Facing the Sun, was an Amy Mathers Teen Book Award winner. "Where Was Goodbye?" is her third novel for teens. her other two books are "Facing the Sun" and "Learning to Breathe". Janice Lynn lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Find out more about Janice and her books by visiting her website: JaniceLynnMather.com.


Giveaway:


One (1) hardcover of "Where was Goodbye?" by Janice Lynn Mather. USA only. Ends on June 30, 2024, at Midnight EST.




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