Book Reviews

He Forgot To Say Goodbye by Benjamin Alire Saenz – Book Review

Saenz is one of my favorite authors. He crafts his stories with heart. His words convey so much. I adore his writing style. But this novel was not one of his best works.

He Forgot To Say Goodbye follows two boys, Jake Upthegrove and Ramiro Lopez. They have one thing in common: they grew up without their fathers. This book deals with family issues, drugs, depression, politics, and friendship. It’s always emotionally draining to jump into one of Saenz’s stories because they feel so real and relatable.

“We think there’s a reason for everything, as if life was supposed to make sense. It’s not exactly math. People aren’t numbers. Everybody knows life doesn’t make any sense at all, so we just better deal with the whole mess. Have a beer. Have a cup of coffee. Have a piece of cake. Go out to a movie. Enjoy the popcorn.”

In here, Saenz portrays beautifully strong female characters. Women that deserved all my respect. It’s something I continue to find in his novels. Strong women. And equally strong men. He gives us feminists. He writes his characters so perfectly that he places them all–in their uniqueness–on the same level. Despite their gender, social class, ethnicity. What a wonderful thing.

“When you write things down, it feels like you can stare at the words and they become mirrors–and you can see yourself.”

I loved relating to so many passages from this book. I did. It’s scary how much Saenz knows me. But sometimes his writing style got repetitive. It became hard to tell the difference between Jake and Ram. Although I did like them both, neither of these characters were memorable. They didn’t have much of a story keeping them going. They had problems. Serious problems. But nothing was truly resolved. It was shoved under a rug. I guess that’s life.

I wish this could have been better. It had a strong beginning. I marked up all of my favorite lines. I was ready to fall in love with these characters. It never really got there. I lost interest in both of their lives. But I still enjoyed most of the journey.

This was worth the read. Anything by Saenz always is.

“And then, there was this storm inside me. And there was thunder and there was rain. God, there was rain.”


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