Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel

Goodbye for Now
Author: Laurie Frankel
Published: August 7, 2012
Genre: contemporary fiction
Hardcover: 304 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Sam Elling works for an internet dating company, but he still can't get a date. So he creates an algorithm that will match you with your soul mate. Sam meets the love of his life, a coworker named Meredith, but he also gets fired when the company starts losing all their customers to Mr. and Ms. Right.

When Meredith's grandmother, Livvie, dies suddenly, Sam uses his ample free time to create a computer program that will allow Meredith to have one last conversation with her grandmother. Mining from all her correspondence—email, Facebook, Skype, texts—Sam constructs a computer simulation of Livvie who can respond to email or video chat just as if she were still alive. It's not supernatural, it's computer science.

Meredith loves it, and the couple begins to wonder if this is something that could help more people through their grief. And thus, the company RePose is born. The business takes off, but for every person who just wants to say good-bye, there is someone who can't let go. 

In the meantime, Sam and Meredith's affection for one another deepens into the kind of love that once tasted, you can't live without. But what if one of them suddenly had to? This entertaining novel, delivers a charming and bittersweet romance as well as a lump in the throat exploration of the nature of love, loss, and life (both real and computer simulated). Maybe nothing was meant to last forever, but then again, sometimes love takes on a life of its own.

My Thoughts: When I read the description of this book, I was intrigued and just knew that I had to read it. I mean, the premise of being able to communicate with people who have passed on is a unique idea and I wondered how Laurie Frankel would tackle such a big issue. She is a gifted writer, which comes across within the first few pages of the book. She is able to pull you in and feel a connection with Sam Elling immediately. He is a likable guy, someone who you are pulling for and want him to get everything that he deserves. When he creates a computer-generated version of Meredith's dead grandmother, you realize who smart he is and that he deserves to reap the success of coming up with something as groundbreaking as this. For me, Sam is a great character and someone who I was sad to see go when I finished the book. Meredith, his girlfriend, is also likable, but she wasn't on the same level as Sam. She was nice and sweet, but something about her (I guess it was continuing to talk with her grandmother) just rubbed me the wrong way. The cast of characters who comes into RePose to talk to their departed loved ones is diverse and it's amazing how all of these people who have recently lost loved ones, all wish to communicate with the dead for a different reason. For some, it's because they miss them. Some have questions as to where things are kept in their homes, and others wish to let steam off and let the dead know how bad they were to live with. Everyone goes in for something different yet they all reap the satisfaction of having talked to their loved one, one more time.

This is a heavy topic and I recommend that you do not read this book if you are not in the mood to be depressed. Not saying that it's a depressing book, but it will drag you down and make you think about people that you've lost in your own life. I found myself wondering who I would want to communicate with if RePose were actually available in real life. Frankel doesn't make light of how hard this is for people, especially when showing the effects it can have on young children. There were parts of the book that were so sad, I just had to put it down and walk away. She really makes you stop and think about grief and death and loss. It was a heavy read and one that made me think throughout the entire novel.

The only downside for me was the pacing. I felt as if we were sprinting throught the novel, racing to finish it. Everything happens very quickly, from Sam and Meredith's first date to creating their first RePose (Meredith's grandmother) to the start up of a business. It was like the fast forward button was on and I wish it just slowed down a little bit. All in all, it is a good book and I cannot wait to see what Frankel writes in the future.

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