The Compulsive Reader: How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

Friday, September 11, 2009

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

Bea and her family are constantly on the move, going from town to town for her father's job. But their latest movie from Ithaca to Baltimore is different somehow. Bea's mom is acting strange and is accusing Bea of being an unfeeling robot girl, and her dad is absent a lot. Bea goes to her new school, not expecting much, and somehow makes friends with Jonah, aka Ghost Boy, the strange guy who hasn't had a friend since the third grade. He and Bea form some sort of bond through a late night radio show, a connection that isn't exactly love, but more than friendship. But will it, or can it, last?

Natalie Standiford's debut novel is wise and quirky, expressive and humorous, and completely unforgettable. The novel takes place in an odd, in-between stage for Bea, where she is dealing with her family's numerous moves and her mother's strange behavior while trying to finish her last year of high school and find who she is, and her conflicting emotions will certainly resonate with readers. Jonah's and Bea's relationship is a very interesting one, and the dynamics between the two is very fun to read about. Neither of them have a perfect family situation, which is a big part of what bonds them. As the story progresses and Bea helps Jonah with his problems and the two figure out a few things, you can see the change in Bea; she's not quite so cynical, and she has learned to empathize with people, an ability nearly lost to her along with all of the friendships that dried up with every new move. She no longer is the robot girl her mother accuses her of being.

Though the many, many mentions of alcohol and underage drinking are slightly irking, they don’t really detract from the message of book in any way, and some of the more interesting scenes take place in a sort of bar. How to Say Goodbye in Robot is a sensitive, smart, and multifaceted read that is realistic and poignant without being mushy. The end, while surprising, is satisfying, and will leave you thinking long after the final page. Fans of John Green, Elizabeth Scott, and Maureen Johnson, watch out for Natalie Standiford.

Cover Comments: I like this cover a lot. The pink is an interesting, but really great choice, and the phone is neat as it kind of plays in with the phoning in to the late night radio show. I also really like the font; it's futuristic and very robotic looking. It fits the title well!

How to Say Goodbye in Robot will be available from Scholastic on October 1st!


Thao said...

I've only read a few reviews on this book but both are positive so I'm holding my hope up a lot. The book looks and sounds cute.

Unknown said...

I could be wrong, but I don't think that this book is Ms. Standiford's debut novel. Isn't she the author of the teen series Dating Game (Dating Game, Parallel Parking, speed Dating, etc)? Or are there two Natalie Standifords?

Lauren said...

Looks good, I can't wait!

E.L53 said...

Good book choice--I love that book! Good review :)