Summary From Goodreads:
Before my older sister Francesca died, I worked at the bakery and wrote songs, but now I write lists. Lists like ten reasons why it’s my fault Francesca’s dead, or five reasons why I should try and win Howie back, or one reason why I need to stop lying to everyone, including myself.
Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye is an extraordinary novel about one family’s struggle to make sense of their world after losing a family member to addiction. Through sixteen-year-old Carmella’s eyes, we witness the courage and strength it takes to overcome the consequences of grief, guilt and co-dependency. With conviction and determination, Carmella shows us what can happen when we’re open to love, feel the pain of our loss, and find the courage to accept the truth of our lives.
Hold on tight, this is going to get ranty.
I knew that this was going to be a very emotional and grief-filled story based on the summary alone, but I guess I didn’t grasp how much of the book was going to be spent on those points. The loss of any family member is, of course, incredibly difficult to deal with and getting over the damage it inflicts on you emotionally can certainly seem devastating. However, even if it is someone you were very close to as was the case in Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye I don’t think it completely controls your life. Sure it can hurt immensely, but the physical ailments that Carmella suffered that were caused by holding in this pain and the truth from her parents were on the extreme side. There are no amount of qualifications I can make for what I have to say to sound less insensitive, so I’ll just be honest, I do apologize in advance if I offend anyone as it is not my intent.
Carmella was an incredibly whiny main character. There, I said it. The girl suffered a tremendous loss, and I understand that she felt guilty about not doing more to help her sister, but get a freaking grip. She isn’t just whiny though, she’s insanely selfish.
At one point in the book (mini unimportant spoiler alert) she has an argument with her best friend Anna. Anna has finally corralled the constantly moping Carmella into going to watch one of her volleyball games, something Carmella never did the year prior for whatever reason. So of course this is a big deal to Anna and when she blows the game for her team (not all her fault but she feels awful about it) she feels like crap. So when Carmella asks if Anna will go to a party with some guys they had just met and Anna declines you’d think she’d be understanding right? Nope, she plays the victim card saying Anna clearly doesn’t sympathize with her loss, that the game isn’t a big deal especially compared to losing a sibling, that Anna has all of her sisters so she should consider herself lucky and won’t she please suck it up and go to the party so Carmella can be with this cute guy she doesn’t really know yet. I’m sure you can figure how that turned out. So like I said, really freaking selfish.
Back to Carmella. I didn’t find her funny, she was a total wench to her parents, especially her mom, and even though it was obvious that they were hurting and trying to deal with it in their own ways all Carmella could see was how they were being unfair to her. She had no empathy for them, or really anyone that experienced similar loss, it was all about her pain and how miserable her life was. Ugh.
Howie, the love interest, was a decent character. He had a good sense of humor to him and he seemed to genuinely care for Carmella and was a champ in putting up with her bs. He had his own share of crap in his life but didn’t give Carmella grief when she seemed to shrug it off at times and dwell on her pain, major kudos to this guy, though I don’t think he should have put up with her.
There were good points in the story. I enjoyed the lists which were mildly entertaining, probably because I’ve been making lists and charts out of habit for years and felt a connection there. The stories about Carmella and her sister were interesting and often quite funny, they were quite the pair. Unfortunately the highlights were drowned in a sea of self pity and typical teenage “everything is about me” behaviors and mindset.
There is only so many times you can say that someone really misses their sister, that their parents suck and aren’t being fair and that they get really nervous around guys before it gets dull. Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye far exceeded that number and then some, it got repetitive and any sympathy initially felt toward Carmella evaporated by about halfway through the book. Oh well, you can’t love them all. I better stop before I go on a crazy repetitious rant myself. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 88!