How Many Letters Are In Goodbye? is the story of Rhea, a seventeen year old girl who has run away from home. Rhea has suffered a lot throughout her life; she lost her mum, her dad, her arm as well as relationships and friendships. The novel tackles a lot of sensitive topics such as suicide, sexuality, abuse and disabilities. However, Rhea’s life isn’t all bad. Whilst living on the streets Rhea forges new friendships and starts to discover more about who she is and learns about family secrets…
I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley to read and review, giving my honest and unbiased opinion.
It certainly took me a while to get into this book. If you were to check my Goodreads you will see that I took almost three months to read this! Initially, the problem was that I read physical books a lot quicker, so having this in digital format didn’t really encourage me to pick it up. However, at the same time I started this I also started my new job, so every now and then I would read a few pages or so on the bus to work. My progress was slow and while it wasn’t exactly gripping, it didn’t completely disinterest me either. On my way home from Paris on Friday I decided to pick up this book again and being able to dedicate a larger amount of time to it made it easier to get into.
I found things really started to get more interesting about halfway through; around the time Rhea met Winnie basically. This then led to me reading the whole of the last 50% of the book yesterday. I definitely think Winnie was probably one of my favourite characters in the book. Rhea, well I don’t love her, but I don’t hate her either. She’s had a sucky life, sure, but she just seems so self-centred at times e.g. with her anger towards Winnie.
As I mentioned in my overview, this book deals with a lot of topics. At times it feels like too much, like it’s one thing after another after another. While this adds to the diversity element of the book, it also makes it very unrealistic and unrelateable, which is kind of ironic as the diversity was probably to enable a wider range of people to relate to Rhea. I didn’t relate to Rhea at all, but she is also very different compared to me; Rhea has a disability, she is a lesbian, she has lost both her parents and after living with her Aunt for a while, she ran away from home. I am not familiar with any of these things, so no wonder I struggled to understand her character.
The story felt very repetitive. I mean, how many times can something be “fifty kinds of crazy”?! If I never hear that phrase again it will be too soon. There were times where I felt like I had already read things, it felt like Rhea was repeating herself, or just repeating information we already knew. This is a epistolary novel, which I usually love, but Rhea’s letters were repetitive and considering she was writing to her mother who had died, they didn’t feel very emotional. One thing I did like though was near the end when Cassidy switched the letters up a bit and we had some written from Rhea’s mother to Aunt Ruth; it was nice to read from a different perspective.
I really liked the fact that the story focuses more on family than on romance. There is a bit of romance within the story, but it doesn’t take over the plot. This made the book more enjoyable for me because from the beginning what had interested me was Rhea’s background and her family; the parts about her sexuality and relationships didn’t really do anything for me, but at the same time they were necessary as it demonstrated who Rhea is, plus a certain relationship was very important for the plot.
Overall, I rate this book 3/5. For the most part it felt rather repetitive and overdone, but I also found parts of it very enjoyable, especially closer to the end. While there was a lot going on, I did also like the way Cassidy coped with the sensitive topics in the novel.
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?