Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: "Goodbye for Now" by Laurie Frankel

There are no words to describe how I'm feeling now that I've finished Laurie Frankel's hopeful and heartbreaking Goodbye for Now. I absolutely loved the book although it really affected me emotionally, and I'm also sad I'm done with it.

Sam Elling is an extremely intelligent computer programmer who works for an internet dating company. He creates an algorithm to find your perfect soul mate, and testing it out on himself, meets the love of his life, Meredith, who works for the same company. The bad news is that Sam gets fired because the algorithm is so successful that his company starts losing money, because people don't need to try and find their soul mate more than once.

One day Meredith's beloved grandmother, Livvie, dies. She is devastated by this loss and wishes she could keep communicating with her. To try and help Meredith through the grieving process, Sam creates a computer program through which Meredith can email Livvie and Livvie—or a computer simulation of her—responds, as it accesses previous emails and other online conversations to develop its communications. And then, because Meredith used to chat via video with her grandmother a lot, Sam creates a video simulation as well. But does this truly help the grieving process?

Sam, Meredith, and her cousin, Dash, begin adapting the program (now called Re-Pose) to help grieving people communicate with their dead loved ones. For some it's cathartic, for some it's necessary, and for some it brings comfort. But as they see the ramifications of their innovation they begin to wonder if they're doing the right thing. And when tragedy strikes, they are confronted with the decision of whether being able to communicate with the one they lost is really helping.

If you've ever lost someone you cared about deeply—parent, spouse, partner, child, sibling, grandparent, friend, or anyone you loved—and wished you could talk to them one more time, this is a book for you. For me, it hit home on so many levels, as I identified with the emotions and desires these characters had. This was such an innovative yet meaningful idea, and not only does Laurie Frankel pull it off magnificently, but she helps you to see both sides of the idea. This book made me laugh and boy, did it make me cry.

Read this book. Have tissues at the ready, but read it.

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