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How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
Publication date: Dec. 1, 2010
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Thank you Estelle for the Christmas present :)
Summary: New to town, Beatrice is expecting her new best friend to be one of the girls she meets on the first day. But instead, the alphabet conspires to seat her next to Jonah, aka Ghost Boy, a quiet loner who hasn't made a new friend since third grade. Something about him, though, gets to Bea, and soon they form an unexpected friendship. It's not romance, exactly - but it's definitely love. Still, Bea can't quite dispel Jonah's gloom and doom - and as she finds out his family history, she understands why. Can Bea help Jonah? Or is he destined to vanish? (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts…The good: It always feels good when a book can surprise you. Whether it's with its characters, originality or story. How To Say Goodbye in Robot managed to surprise me in almost every possible way. Bea is starting her senior year in a new town, at a new school and the last thing she expected was to make a friend like Jonah, aka Ghost Boy. He hasn't had a friend since grammar school and has spent most of his life trying to be as invisible as possible. Then on her first day they're seated next to one another and they slowly form this genuine and beautiful friendship. They bond over late night old-timer radio show (which introduces more wonderfully quirky characters), the strange way they see themselves (Jonah refers to himself as ghost, Bea a robot), long conversations and their desire to do what they want. In other words, they're not the kids you'll find gossiping, getting drunk, partying or attending prom. They do their own thing in a way that's so uniquely them. That was one of my favorite things about them as individuals and friends. They didn't allow people to define them and what they should do. But the book isn't just about these two quiet rebels, they both deal with issues at home and the strength of their friendship comes from how they support each other. Bea's father is a good man but he's always been a little absent. He's a professor and constantly moving their family around for his job. Her mother comes across as a little.. insane. She and Bea were close once but secrets put a wedge between them and now she's always sad and obsessed with chickens (seriously). Jonah also has to deal with an absentee father keeping HUGE secrets of his own. But as is the case with secrets, the truth almost always comes out eventually. And those truths are what propel this story and the characters forward.
Bea and Jonah aren't perfect. As much as I loved their relationship, there were times when Jonah didn't seem to appreciate Bea enough and she seemed almost too dependent on him. But in his own way, he clearly needed her. And I got that. There's something addicting about being needed. I think that's what made their friendship realistic though. It's flawed and they're both figuring out what they mean to each other and I actually liked that it never became romantic. At one point, Jonah tells Bea that what they have can't be labeled by terms like friend or boyfriend/girlfriend. And he's kind of right. I don't even know how to exactly label what they are. Best friends? Platonic soulmates? The point is, they love each other and I think that's all they (and we, the readers) need to know.
(No) reservations: It's a very well-written original novel from start to finish.
Do I recommend?: Yes! I read this book at a leisurely pace, just taking my time getting to know the characters and getting absorbed into the story. I really enjoyed it. It's sweet and heartbreaking and so offbeat. I kept thinking to myself, this would make for a great indie movie. Trust me, this one to check out.