I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley
Published by Ballantine on January 12, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
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The first thing you should know is that everyone lies. The second thing is that it matters.
On her way to her nineteenth wedding anniversary celebration, Natalie Falcone leaves the struggling restaurant she owns with her brother-in-law, Vince. She doesn’t speak to him on her way out; they haven’t spoken in months. Out on the sidewalk, she gets a phone call every mother dreads: It’s from a hospital emergency room in the town where her daughter, Arden, attends college. Arden’s been in a fire, along with Natalie’s niece, Rory—Vince’s daughter and Arden’s best friend.
Natalie rushes to the hospital and learns that both Arden and Rory lie unconscious, and that another student has died in the blaze. The police suspect arson.
As the investigation mounts, Natalie struggles to piece together the elusive details of Arden’s and Rory’s freshman year. Growing up, Rory was charming, popular, and charismatic, while Arden was artistic, perceptive, and reserved. They were different yet inseparable, more like sisters than cousins. But the case unearths a different portrait—of a complex friendship, a love triangle, a fight, and a girl who was struggling more than anyone realized. To discover what really happened that tragic night, Natalie’s and Vince’s families must confront the one truth that ultimately emerges: Nothing is ever exactly what it seems.
Natalie Falcone and her brother-in-law, Vince, are the co-owners of a restaurant in the Washington DC area and they’ve hit a rough patch financially. Their daughters, Arden and Rory, now have to attend a local college instead of the prestigious institutions where they gained acceptance. They’ve grown up together and have always been as close as sisters, with only a 4-month age difference. They even look alike. All of this precipitates a tragedy no one in their families saw coming. As both sets of parents stand vigil, others work to untangle the mystery of how these two young girls ended up in these circumstances.
This is a strangely intriguing story, told in several characters’ narratives and transitioning between the past and present throughout. I thought Rory and Arden were well developed, complicated and probably very typical of most teens. They kept surprising me until the end. Most of the story, however, was told from Natalie’s perspective and I connected with her in every aspect. She was far from perfect and seemed to represent the typical, harried working woman trying to balance a career she loves with her children and marriage.
I’m sure parents of teenagers will find this disturbing as Rory and Arden had close relationships with their families but no one really seemed to know what was truly going on with these two. The mystery wasn’t easy to resolve and a couple of twists caught me by surprise. This story will haunt me for awhile.