Book Review: How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

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This book was definitely not what I expected, but that’s not a bad thing. From the start, I thought it was going to be a cute, quirky, funny friendship story. It was not. It was sad. Hopeful. Beautiful. Alive. Truthful. Heart-breaking. I loved it.

A while ago someone suggested I use this book as a comp title for one of my WIPs, because of the relationship in it that mirrored the one in my own. But it wasn’t just that – a lot of it felt similar to my style of writing, only (obviously) better. Beatrice is funny and such a great friend. Jonah, though often treating Bea horribly, is flawed in a way that seemed really human and forgivable. And the radio station that they both listen to is a mixture of lonely and nostalgic, which are sometimes the same thing, and happy.

It’s a book of violent ups and downs, going from hilarious…

“The students adore your father,’ a perfumed woman said to me. ‘Aren’t you lucky to live with such a charming man!’
‘He’s even more charming at home,’ Mom said. ‘Isn’t he, Bea? He rides a unicycle through the house -‘
‘- even up and down the stairs,’ I added.
‘He juggles eggs as he makes breakfast every morning -‘
‘- which he serves to us in bed of course,’ I said.
‘- and pulls fragrant bouquets out of his ass,’ Mom finished.
‘He’s just a joy.”

…to profound…

“I keep wishing, reflexively, for a glimpse of the future, so I’ll know what to do. But I don’t kid myself. I have to feel my way forward blindly. I try not to be afraid. Even if you know what’s coming, you’re never prepared for how it feels.”

…to sometimes a mix of the two…

“A toast to the birthday boy!’ Myrna shouted. ‘Welcome to the adult world, hon. It’s lonely, it’s miserable, and God help you. But there are bright spots, and nights like tonight are one of them.”

Bea grew throughout the book. Right at the beginning, I assumed she was about fourteen, because the voice was somewhat juvenile. But she’s not – she’s a senior in high school, and facing increasingly grown-up things as the book goes on. This abrupt change didn’t feel like bad writing to me, though – it felt right.

Really, I was only annoyed by a few things. One was Tom Garber, the total clichéd hot boy that appears to be really nice despite how much people tell you he’s not. I won’t spoil it, but basically he wasn’t needed in the story.

Two was that I really wanted more of Bea and Jonah together before she decided so completely to follow him through everything. Especially since he gets crazy-jealous of everyone she tries to befriend (not healthy, not nice, perhaps even abusive).

Three was Jonah’s father. He does some pretty awful things, which weren’t explained or justified very well, and almost seemed impossible to me sometimes.

But despite those three things, there were three hundred more good things which mean this is a four-star book. Catch yourself a magic carpet (for those who’ve read it, you know what this means) and pick it up somewhere. Similar stories: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Eleanor and Park, Two Weeks with the Queen (MG, but still). It was a lovely read.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

  1. I like the sound of this one…! I loved Perks, and I’m trying (heh…trying) to get a copy of Eleanor & Park. Quirky contemporaries are awesome. I love finding books that would make good comparative titles. Gosh, it’s really exciting.

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