How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

I loved this book!

I read a lot, but it’s been awhile since I’ve found a story I love with characters I love as much as this one. It’s called How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford. I’ve stayed up late reading it the past four nights, last night being the night I finished it. From just seeing the cover blurb I knew immediately it was up my alley:

New to town, Bea is expecting her new best friend to be one of the girls she meets on the first day. You know the type: very cheery, very friendly, very average. But instead, the alphabet conspires to seat her next to Jonah, aka Ghost Boy, a quiet observer who hasn’t made a new friend since third grade. He’s not a big fan of people in general…but he’s willing to make an exception for her. Maybe.

Bea and Jonah are not going to have a friendship like other people have a friendship, where it’s all based on gossip and parties and what everybody else thinks. Instead, their friendship comes from truth-bound conversations, shared secrets, daring stunts, and late-night calls to the same old-timer radio show. They help each other, push away and hold close. It’s not romance, exactly–but it’s definitely love. And it means more to them than either one can ever really know…

It didn’t let me down.

Bea is finally a female narrator I love. She has an attitude but she’s also funny and kind. She’s independent but not distancing. If I were still a teenager I’d want her for a friend. Jonas, also, is a great, likable character, even if he doesn’t like anyone but Bea.

You might be able to tell from the title that it may not be the happiest of books. I thought the ending was pretty inconclusive, but I can deal with an open-ending. YA books don’t have to be wrapped up nicely. It still had a climax and resolution, so it still feels complete–there’s just room left for some imagining on the reader’s part.

Another plus–this book has some similarities to the one I’m working on. Deep friendship between two teens the rest of the school doesn’t understand, a conflict with family (on both characters’ sides) they work together to solve. Luckily, Standiford names her agent in the acknowledgments, so I’ll definitely be querying her when I’m ready.

The book is more complex than following a relationship between two friends, though that is definitely the main focus of the story. I enjoyed the side plots of Jonah’s brother and Bea’s mom–they enhanced the book–but I probably would have enjoyed the book without them as well. It’s just that good.

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