Published: May 9th, 2017
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.
Diversity: Belen, Tilly and Blanche are from Chile – Tilly being first generation born in the US. Seamus is biracial with an Irish mother and Kenyan father.
It Started with Goodbye is a story of developing who you are a person, growing into a positive future and understanding those around you.
It starts with our main character, Tatum, recounting events of her unexpected cooperation in a case of grand larceny. While she isn’t arrested for aiding and abetting, she is given the punishment of a £500 fine and 100 hours of community service – and something far harsher from her parents: a lack of trust.
This book follows Tatum building a business from the ground up, making new friends and finding new love, whilst melting the ice of the frosty relationship she has always had with her stepmother, Belen, and stepsister, Tilly.
In a lot of ways, It Started with Goodbye read like a Cinderella retelling, especially in her relationship with Belen and Tilly. Tatum describes thinking that they believed her to be lesser than, not as good as, and that she is treated as such – its only through her new business that she finally forms a relationship with the distant Tilly, and through the soft words of Blanche – her stepgrandmother – that she begins to understand what made Belen who she is.
It was wonderful to see these kinds of relationships shown in a positive light. YA fiction seems to be filled with evil stepmothers and snobby stepsisters, so to read a book that shows it depicted with so much realness to it is refreshing. No relationship is going to be perfect, it will be filled with misunderstands and personalities rubbing wrong against each other – but in the end, that cavern between them is beginning to be bridged and smiles can be shared.
In regards to the Cinderella comparison, she also has her ‘ball’ – Sol Jam – and her prince charming – Seamus Kipling, who she meets on the night of the ball and who whisks her away with sweet cello compositions and toasted marshmallows.
The romance was something I found quite adorable – they bonded over a love of art and of the intelligent discussions of that art. SK is something of a mystery to Tatum for most of the story – although, admittedly, I only saw half the plot twist coming. They were very cute together and seemed to care about what the other said. No insta-love here either!
It’s a quick read, despite being over 300 pages long, and Christina June’s writing makes it seem even faster. She gets the point, doesn’t use poetic language to tell her story but what she does display is a real honest view of being a teenager, of struggles between child and parents, of trust and love and finding a passion that will guide you through the rest of your life.
It Started With Goodbye is a short and sweet read about growing up and loving those around you. Well worth a read!