Rated Reads

Goodbye for Now

by Laurie Frankel

Rated: High

Sam is a software engineer for an online dating service. He’s so brilliant that when he invents a new system for his company, when he tries it himself, he immediately finds the perfect girl. He and Meredith get along so well that they become serious very quickly. The relationship becomes even more serious when Meredith’s beloved grandmother dies, and Sam finds himself trying to figure out how to comfort Meredith.

Since software is his strong suit, Sam decides to create an algorithm that allows Meredith to email and then video chat with her dead grandma, Livvie. Since the two had emailed and talked via video so much, there is plenty for him to work with. Meredith loves it and soon becomes accustomed to being able to still talk with her grandmother. Eventually, she decides it would be really great if she and Sam could share this great opportunity with the world, and that’s what they do: they create a company and service called RePose that allows the newly bereaved to chat with their dead loved ones (or DLO’s).

Naturally, the whole thing creates complications in everyone’s lives. Is it ethical? Does it help people mourn, or is RePose unhealthy, preventing people from mourning properly? Meredith’s parents hate the whole idea and refuse to even look at Livvie’s “projection.” And the projections end up saying some weird things sometimes. The whole thing makes real life a little strange sometimes, and the lines blur. But Sam and Meredith have each other, and they’re blissfully, wonderfully in love.

This novel captures love so charmingly: there were so many little spots I had to read aloud to my husband or my teenager because they were so cute and funny and sweet (such as the dialogue between Meredith and Sam right before their first kiss; I’d share it here, but I’d hate to spoil it for you if you read this). Conversely, almost, the book also captures the ache, the gaping hole, that is grief when love is lost. I felt myself acutely aware of my own grief from the loss of my beloved father in 2009, and though it’s been a few years, I felt afresh so many of the emotions that come with mourning because Frankel worded it all so perfectly, pinned those feelings down in black-and-white printed words on a page. I thought the premise of the novel was so original and clever, and I would have jumped on the RePose bandwagon had I been a character in this book, just to talk to my dad again. I felt for the characters almost physically. And when there are more goodbyes throughout the book, I felt as if my heart would break along with the characters’ hearts. Even so, the book never went for the cheap and easy tug on the heartstrings; I never felt manipulated or that the story or emotions were maudlin. I put down the book after the last page, gently and tenderly, thanking Frankel for her gift. It’s just a beautiful book.

Rated: High. There are about 15 uses of strong language and a fair number of occasions of moderate language. There is one sex scene that is mildly to moderately detailed but brief.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

One Response to Goodbye for Now

  1. […] Goodbye for Now, by Laurie Frankel. I just read this book and found it utterly charming and funny at turns and at other times sweetly poignant and heartbreaking. Frankel describes so perfectly how it feels to lose someone you love dearly. She balances grief and new love all in one lovely book that made me both cry and laugh out loud. Plus, it has a very clever premise. […]

  • Goodbye for Now
  • by Laurie Frankel
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: