It Started with Goodbye has a really good story and a really relatable main character, with hints of Cinderella. The novel follows Tatum, a teenager who got herself in trouble at the beginning of the summer, and is now relegated to spending her summer under house arrest, completing community service and answering to her (unreasonable?) stepmother while her father is away on business. She’s also sharing the house with her stepsister (who she never talks to) and her stepmother’s mother, who is somewhat of a breath of fresh air for Tatum. Due to the trouble she got into, she’s also lost her best friend. For her, it’s shaping up to be a really bad summer, despite her secret graphic design business she’s started.
Tatum was what made this book for me. From the beginning, you sympathized with her account of how she got into trouble, and realize (or at least feel) she is being treated unfairly. Granted, that is because the book is from her point of view, but even from my now adult perspective, I had a hard time sympathizing with anyone else in the book until she did. As Tatum fights and rails against her lot in life, it’s easy to feel her pain and try to hope with her for an improvement in her fate. However, Tatum grows and her perspective changes throughout the novel, and your estimation of the other characters grows alongside Tatum’s, which was skillfully done by the author.
The story was also good, if a bit predictable. The love story was endearing, and the guy was likable. Many relationships grow and change throughout the course of the book, and you find yourself rooting for the changes that occur. As Tatum’s relationships to the characters change, you find yourself learning more about them, and opening up to them a little. There are also lots of positive female friendships here, which I love to see. By the end, you’ve finished a feel good contemporary novel that has evolved throughout, and you’ve gotten a complete story out of the deal. It’s full of teenage angst and a little drama, but it’s wholly relatable for anyone who is a teenager or who has been a teenager.
I recommend this novel to anyone looking for a quick, easy contemporary read that features strong characters and a good story arc. The little bit of romance doesn’t hurt. It Started with Goodbye is out today, so go ahead and pick it up.
Note: I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars