Title: It Started with Goodbye by Christina June
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: 272 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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/fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.
A modern play on the Cinderella story arc, IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE shows us that sometimes going after what you want means breaking the rules.
It Started with Goodbye by Christina June is a wonderful young adult novel that explores the relationships between stepfamilies.
Sixteen year old Tatum Elsea was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people and although she is guilty of nothing more than being loyal to her best friend, Ashlyn Zanotti, she is paying a steep price. While Tatum completely understands she could have handled the situation differently, her father and stepmother Belén impose a harsh punishment on her and she is essentially under house arrest for the summer. With a lot of free time on her hands, Tatum spends the summer working to pay off her fine and fulfilling her community service hours. At her feisty step-grandmother Blanche’s urging, she also begins a graphic design business which leads to some flirty exchanges with a mysterious new client. Blanche also teaches her some gentle life lessons that provide her with some much needed insight into her strict stepmother’s behavior. When Tatum’s father returns home at the end of summer from a business trip, will the family find a way to heal their fractured relationships?
Tatum’s relationship with both her stepmother and stepsister Tilly have always been strained. Stepmom Belén is not exactly the warm and cuddly type and she deals with everyone in a brisk, no nonsense manner. She has extremely high expectations for both Tatum and Tilly but luckily for Tatum, she is able to convince her father to intervene on her behalf when necessary. Which is why it comes as such a complete shock when her father sides with Belén and agrees to the harsh punishment her stepmother has imposed. Down but not out, Tatum creatively devises ways to work around some of the edicts but she still deeply resents her dad and Belén for their unfair treatment over something that really is not her fault.
While the storyline mainly focuses on Tatum’s family relationships, there is a slight romantic element to the plot. Tatum’s e-mail exchange with her new client is light-hearted, fun and flirty. She has no idea who the young man is but she finds much to admire about him as she gets to know him over the summer. When they do eventually meet in real life, readers won’t be too surprised about who he is, but Tatum sure is!
It Started with Goodbye by Christina June is a terrific novel of healing for Tatum and her family. The characters are multi-dimensional with easy to relate to human frailties and foibles. The storyline is quite engaging and deals with real life issues in a straightforward, realistic manner. A very well-written young adult novel that I absolutely loved and highly recommend to readers of all ages.