The Goodbye Year by Kaira Rouda

What a great read – and a very apt title for a book which tells the stories of lots of endings, or are they new beginnings?  Whatever your perspective, there are always goodbyes of a sort along the way and Kaira Rouda explores the minds and actions of her very realistic characters in a carefully observed and incredibly insightful way.
Although I am not quite at the ’empty nest’ stage, I felt I could really relate to some of the issues of getting older that are addressed, whether it be a teenager trying to decide what university they should go to, to the grown ups looking to their relationships with children, spouses, lovers and friends in an attempt to discover what comes next for them.  Melanie struggles with her son, Dane, while her husband carefully negotiates the ground between them while trying to keep everyone happy; Sarah, facing the prospect of being alone after her daughter leaves for university, wonders whether her marriage to her cold workaholic husband is worth saving; Will has had his every action decided for him since his marriage to Carol, the hyper-organised head of the local school, and he is looking for excitement and escape with a beautiful and exciting lover called Lauren, whose own married and family life is far from perfect.
There are some great little shocks and surprises towards the end of the book (which some may see coming) as well as some positive notes to finish on.  All in all a great read.

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