The Goodbyes is a moving and realistic account of the strength of an unbreakable bond, the anguish of unrequited feelings, and the wisdom attained through the highs and lows of triumph and tragedy. Told through the unique prose of debut author Leslie Welch, this story aims for the core of our emotions.
Webb Turner grew up in a seemingly idyllic Pennsylvania town, tortured by a troubled household. His young life is turned upside down by the exciting, magnetic, and wild girl next door, Bree. They keep each other at arm's length their whole lives, however, dancing around the issue of their unresolved feelings while Bree's life steadily spirals out of control.
In the meantime, Webb's life is on a different trajectory. He escapes the small town to become a globetrotting rock music sensation, with a new romantic interest on his mind and the past left in the rear-view mirror—until he hears that Bree is dying. This shocking news unleashes a torrent of unresolved angst that won't be dammed until Webb drops everything and everybody mid-tour to undertake a dangerous drive through a blizzard to be by Bree's side, just for one last chance to say his final farewell.
With compelling characters, an unflinchingly realistic small-town setting, and emotionally sensitive prose, author Leslie Welch weaves a story that lingers in the mind long after the cover is closed.Sometimes, the past is just as important as the present, as it is because of the past that you have reached your present. This is true for the people around you, as well. In this case, for Webb, Bree and Charlotte.
Webb receives word that Bree is near death, and he rushes home, as much as he can in bad weather.
Through a series of memories of the past and occurrences in the present, all happening while he is driving to be at the bedside of the woman he thinks he has never gotten over, you put together a picture of who Webb is, who he wants to be, the things he lost, the things he gained, and the things that make him who he is.
But what is even more telling is that Webb starts to put it together. he starts to see Bree for who she is, he better understands his family and his early life, his childhood, the band, the actions of other band members, and Charlotte.
He learns more about himself in those few hours in the car than he has in the rest of his life up to that point. And he realizes...that sometimes, people in your life are meant to be in the past, the present, and the future...but other times, life moves on and leaves people in the past. Not everyone belongs in the present, and most importantly, to move forward into the future, you sometimes have to say goodbye to those things that are tying you into places that you should no longer be, and holding you back by keeping you tied to a time that has ended.
I was teary during the scene in the hospital with Bree. I will not give spoilers, but this did not end at all as I expected it to, and I liked that it surprised me. I loved what she told him, and his response. She was right. And, now that he finally understands that, he can move to what awaits him in the future.
The pacing of this was perfect, the juxtaposition of the chapters in the present and the past were aligned in a way that they not only opened up who Webb was to the reader, but also moved the story forward into who he is now. The characters and the dialog were real, emotional, and heartfelt.
Quite an impressive debut novel and I recommend it.