I am a firm believer than your experience with books changes based on external factors. Yes, some books will always be amazing, but some books are better or worse in the right context. For me, I know that I read It Started with Goodbye at the exact right time. A new twist on a Cinderella story, this quick-paced YA romance was just what I needed to end my month.
Nothing this summer had gone the way I imagined. But maybe it was supposed to be that way so I could turn the page and move onto a new, clean chapter in my story.
16-year-old Tatum Elsea is not having the best start to her summer. Her bestie’s skeezy boyfriend shoplifted $300+ worth of merchandise with the two ladies around, meaning all three of them were arrested. After offering her testimony in exchange for a less-harsh sentence, her BFF isn’t talking to her and Tatum is under house arrest. When her traditional summer babysitting gig falls through, Tatum is prepared to do nothing but suffer community service and the company of her terrible stepmother. Things cannot get worse.
The way this book started out was a bit of a dud for me. I struggled to believe that Tatum would be charged with grand larceny in this situation. I also couldn’t understand why her stepmother, Belén, and her father were so unbelievably hard on her. No one was having real conversations with her, they were only looking down on her and holding a hard line. From the perspective of a Cinderella re-telling that made sense, I guess. But from a realism perspective, it didn’t.
That said, Tatum’s character was incredibly realistic. I can relate to the terrible feelings and poor self-esteem that Tatum is going through in It Started with Goodbye. 16-year-old me would have been bestie’s with this girl. She is vocal, strong, knows what she wants– and yet she is constantly questioning herself, her personal worth, and her future. This is a perfect 16-year-old.
In terms of life events, my getting arrested was either pretty horrible timing or pretty perfect, depending on who you were talking to.
I adored watching the relationships between Tatum and the people in her life mature throughout this book. Tilly and Abby’s relationships were my personal favorites. It was fun watching Tatum come into who she wants to be with friendships, family, and her future career aspiration. In retrospect, Blanche, Tatum’s step-grandmother didn’t really develop much as a character, but with her fairy-godmother status, I didn’t mind.
I *did* mind the relationship between Tatum and Belén changing. As an adult, I was almost horrified that Tatum had to be the person to step up and be the “bigger person”. Not only did she have to do this with her step-mother, but also with her father– who, in the Cinderella story, is Ella’s biggest supporter. It didn’t sit well with me and made me dislike Belén and Tatum’s father even more as characters. Both of them were villains in my eyes in this story.
I wished more than anything that I could teleport myself somewhere peaceful and quiet, where people smiled and laughed instead of keeping themselves buttoned so tight they choked themselves.
All-in-all, I read this book at the right time. I connected with Tatum and what she was going through. I don’t know if I would resonate with this if my current life circumstances were different. Or even if I had a different mindset. A cute, quirky, and modern take on Cinderella, I strongly recommend It Started with Goodbye to any fan of contemporary YA and romance.
What Do You Think?
- Do you believe that reading a book at the right time can make or break your experience?
- What do you think about the current fad of YA retellings? What are your favorite or least favorite parts about them?
- What was the last book you read which you loved in the moment, but thought future-you might not enjoy? Did you ever find out if future-you didn’t enjoy it as much?