How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
Beatrice is new in town, but that’s nothing new for her. She and her parents have lived in city after city, following her father’s career as a professor. Bea tells herself that she doesn’t care what the other kids in school think of her. She’s a senior and only has to make it through one final year until she heads to college. In assembly, she finds herself between Anne who is very perky even early in the morning, and Jonah who everyone calls Ghost Boy because he is so pale and reserved. It would make sense for her to become friends with Anne, especially because that’s what Anne wants. But she finds herself drawn to Jonah. They have one vital thing in common: they are both insomniacs and listen to late-night radio to fall asleep. And so they become unusual friends, true friends who would do anything for each other.
Standiford does the near impossible here. She has a male/female friendship with no kissing, no groping, no sexual tension. It is a real friendship: taut with tension at times, deep with emotion, glassy with superficiality too. The relationship between these two teens is so genuine. It is fragile at times, breakable, but iron strong and vital too. It is shifting, changing, and true.
Standiford excels at several things in this novel. Her characterizations are wonderful. Not only the two main characters are real, but Bea’s parents, the radio callers, and other teens are fully realized and interesting. Standiford’s pacing is also very well done. It is so well done that it is unobtrusive and unnoticed while reading, which is just what pacing should be. It makes the book hard to put down and a pleasure to read.
I should mention the cover, which I really don’t like. It should not be a pink book, especially not a hot-pink book. And the phone really doesn’t work for me. With as special as this book is, it deserved a much better cover. Let’s hope that it gets released in paperback with a better cover that really shows what it’s about.
This is an unusual book. The characters are unique, interesting and fun to spend time with. Their friendship is so real that it is almost painful at times to read because it is so accurately and unflinchingly portrayed. Sadly, the cover will have to be worked against to get it into the hands of teens who will relate to it. Anyone with a real friend will find themselves on these pages. Appropriate for ages 14-17.
Reviewed from ARC received from publisher.