Six Goodbyes We Never Said
This is a story of grief, mental health struggles and being different in a world that sometimes constantly reminds us that those differences are not the norm.
Our main characters in this story; Dew and Naima are both teenagers who experience this on a daily basis.
Dew, suffers from social anxiety, which sometimes manifests in him being a little too enthusiastic in social situations, that can then become uncomfortable and awkward. Add to this, the fact that he is also still trying to come to terms with losing both his parents at the same time.
Naima, has OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), ongoing depression and a general anxiety disorder. As if that wasn't enough to deal with, she is also dealing with the loss of her father, the most important person in her life and the one who understood her the most.
Both teens are dealing with a devastating loss, and are trying to deal with it in their own way: Dew by trying not to rock the boat with his foster family, and Naima, by trying to be as closed off as possible, even to the ones who love her.
When Dew meets Naima after she moves in next door, he sees a kindred spirit, and tries to extend the hand of friendship. Naima is resistant, but Dew's open and accepting nature softens Naima's resolve to stay cold and detached from those around her. Through their interactions, they both help each other from under the crushing enormity of their grief, to a place where they are accepting of it and they learn to manage it.
Candace Ganger did not shy away from highlighting the crippling effects of depression and the incidents that can result. She shows how important it is for those experiencing these mental health issues to have a support system to help them get through difficult periods.
All the characters were so relatable and well written, especially Dew and Naima, both of them captured your heart. Dew was so sweet, pure of heart and mind. And Naima was the opposite, a prickly exterior that hid an inside layer of fragility.
With regards to the writing style, I loved Ganger's use of email and voicemail messages that showed the interactions between Naima and her father. Also, her use of the recorder emblems to show Dew's penchant for recording interesting interactions that he witnesses. I also like the fact that the reader was able to get a glimpse in Naima's mind when she had one of her OCD episodes.
This was truly an insightful and relevant read, Six Goodbyes We Never Said, is a YA novel that will be impactful.