Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye Book Review and Interview

Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye

Shari A. Brady

Young Adult

June 2012

252 Pages

About the Book:

Before sixteen-year-old Carmella’s older sister Francesca died, she worked at the bakery and wrote songs, but now she writes lists. Lists like ten reasons why she shouldn’t feel guilty for her sister’s death, or five reasons why she needs to win Howie back, or one reason why she should stop lying to everyone, including herself.

Wish I Could Have said Goodbye is an extraordinary first novel about one family’s struggle to make sense of their world after losing someone they love to addiction. Shari A. Brady skillfully takes the reader on a journey and through Carmella’s eyes we witness the guilt, pain and courage it takes to overcome the consequences of co-dependency. It is truly a heart-breaking novel about what happens when love, loss and truth collide.

My Review:

Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye‘s Carmella has an authentic teenager’s voice.  Shari Brady hits many themes that are common to the average teenager, including peer pressure, lying for convenience, and rebelling against parents.

The writing is at times both funny and sweet and tragic.  When Carmella accidentally “catches” her father grieving her sister’s loss, she says:

“His agony seeps through the bottom of the door and stabs me right in the heart.”

Ms. Brady paints a familiar picture of the dichotomy between parental logic and teenage logic.

“Wait,” I say. “Can I have that one?”

Mom clutches Francesca’s shirt. “This old thing? Why would you want this?”
“Because it was her favorite.”

Mom passes me the shirt. “Okay.” She shakes her head.

Holding it up to my nose, I smell Francesca and for a tiny fraction of a second, I get her back.

This book took me back to my own awkward teenage years and those times when I felt like I didn’t fit in, wanted a boy to like me but was afraid of what would happen if he did, and gained ten pounds in two weeks from “comfort” eating during a very stressful time.  Shari Brady has managed to remember that time that some of us have chosen to forget, and I thank her for the bittersweet memories her book invoked.

There is one incident toward the end of the book that disturbed me.  I felt that Carmella should have had harsher consequences (either from circumstance or her parents) for driving while intoxicated. Other than that, the book was stellar.

I give Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye four Zambonis (if you read the book, you’ll understand).

About the Author:

Shari A. Brady is a native Chicagoan and previously had so many careers she’s lost count. A graduate of Loyola University’s Business School and University of Chicago’s Creative Writing program, she’s finally a full-time writer, a dream she’s carried with her since she was twelve. She lives in suburban Chicago with her awesome husband, two of the best kids ever, and their shelter dog, Betty Queen Elizabeth. This is her first novel and her last career.

Interview with the Author:

TM: What sparked the idea for Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye?

SAB: I lost my own sister and wanted to write a novel surrounding the unique and special sister relationship.  While writing the second draft, I became aware of a sharp rise in prescription drug and heroin use in high schools and kids dying. That’s when the real story emerged and when I held my book in my hand for the first time, I decided I could do more and decided to raise money for something I feel passionate about.

TM: Was it hard to write a book that was so emotionally close to you?

SAB: It was very difficult because I had to constantly remind myself this is not a memoir, this is not my story, it is Carmella’s story.  I needed to tap into my emotions while staying true to Carmella’s character. 

TM: What draws you to the YA genre?

SAB: I think the YA age is a super difficult/intriguing time in life.  I think the pressure is totally on and it is a time of big changes and lots of excitement.  And there’s nothing concrete and clear about so many aspects of a YA life, which makes for really awesome fiction. The way I see it, when you’re in the YA age group, you’re mature, but you’re not. You’re responsible, but then again you’re not.  You are supposed to be independent, yet you’re not allowed to be totally independent. And I’m also a hopeless romantic and seem to think these are the years when most of us experience a first true love.  And who isn’t completely blown away by that?

TM:  Of all the jobs you’ve had, other than writing, which did you like the best?

SAB: When I was in my early twenties, my father found a breakfast/lunch place for sale and invested in it.  I managed it, my mother and another lady cooked. It was really hard work but was also really fun until we figured out something wasn’t right. Long story short, you never get something for nothing and it turned out the restaurant wasn’t a viable business and my dad got his money back.  BTW, a customer came in for lunch one day and happened to be a palm reader.  She read my palm and told me she saw great success for me as a writer. I was all like, “How did she know about my secret?” (i was a closet writer)

TM: Tell me about any upcoming projects.

SAB: I’m very excited about my next book, All the World’s a Stage, a funny, quirky story about Gabriella, a Tarot Card reading expert, aspiring actress and perfectionist. She has to come to terms with accepting she’s not perfect, the people around her aren’t perfect and as much as you’d like it to, life doesn’t always go as planned (especially when you have a boyfriend). It is scheduled for release in the spring of 2013.

A portion of the proceeds from Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye will be donated to Families and Adolescents in Recovery, Inc. (F.A.I.R.). If you’d like to make a donation to help in research, education and recovery for kids stricken with addiction, please visit www.fairkids.org

Follow Shari Brady on Facebook/Twitter/Blog/Goodreads

I received a review copy of this book for the purpose of the interview thanks to Innovative Online Book Tours.  Regardless, all opinions are mine.



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