Review: Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger

Title: Six Goodbyes We Never Said
Author: Candace Ganger
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Pages: 320

Content Warnings: mental illness, suicide attempt, self-harm, death of parents

This post does contain affiliate links. I will receive a small amount from any purchases made through Book Depository at no extra cost to you.

Two teens meet after tragedy and learn about love, loss, and letting go

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her. 

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects. 

Candace Ganger’s Six Goodbyes We Never Said is no love story. If you ask Naima, it’s not even a like story. But it is a story about love and fear and how sometimes you need a little help to be brave enough to say goodbye.

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Filled with grief, messy emotions, and some incredible representation, Candace Ganger has woven a poetic story with Six Goodbyes We Never Said.

That’s the thing about absence – it sinks into your skin, clinging to the bone until it’s so much a part of you, you can no longer tell where it ends and you begin.

six goodbyes we never said by candace ganger

Naima and Dew are two of the most heartfelt characters I’ve ever experienced. They both suffered incredible losses and are reeling from the aftermath. Though their story is filled with tragedy and grief, there is also a message of hope to it. They remind us that it can take time to realize it but life does go on.

Something I loved about both Naima and Dew is that they each suffer from mental illness in different ways, but that isn’t what defines them. Both characters still have unique personalities and distinct voices that set them apart.

Perhaps weird is my preferred aesthetic. It keeps people guessing.

six goodbyes we never said by candace ganger

It would be incredibly easy to write Naima off from the very beginning. She is brusque, standoffish, and generally unlikeable. These traits are all on the surface though. There are so many layers to her and it’s worth giving her a chance to find out what she is like underneath all of the sadness.

Sometimes help is not helping.

six goodbyes we never said by candace ganger

The overall story is very slow-moving the majority of the time. Normally this would be enough to make me dislike a book or even not finish it, but it worked well with Candace’s unique voice and poetic way of writing. There were so many themes to explore and she melded them together exceptionally well.

There is a great deal of representation in this own voices novel as well. Candace has included biracial main characters, bisexual or pansexual main character and possibly a bi or pan side character, fat main character, as well as characters with obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It doesn’t matter who you make proud, as long as you find peace within yourself. Make yourself proud.

six goodbyes we never said by candace ganger

Six Goodbyes We Never Said is one of the best books about grief I’ve ever read. It also made me feel incredibly seen by how well anxiety was handled. This is a very heavy book that tackles some big topics. At times it’s hard to get through, but in the end, it’s 100% worth it.

A digital ARC was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Additionally, all quotes should be checked for changes against the final copy.

6 thoughts on “Review: Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger”

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