Disclaimer: I know and love Russell Ricard, but I promise to be as unbiased as possible in my review of his debut novel, The Truth About Goodbye!
One thing I know for sure about English majors and teachers is that they have strong opinions about books. More specifically, they have strong opinions about what makes a book “good” or “diverse” or “educational”. For me, I believe strongly that we do a disservice to books when we stringently categorize them. For example, is a book diverse because it’s written by a person of color, or is it diverse because of content, regardless of the color of the author? Separating books by genre is important, sure, but it is also limiting.
I thought about this a lot while reading The Truth About Goodbye. This story is, above anything else, a love story. A story about a man who loses his husband tragically and has to deal with the aftermath. Filled with wonderful, witty characters and hilarious dialogue, the author does a really great job of taking what could be a sentimental story and making it into something entertaining and powerful. Through Sebastian’s grief, we go on a journey with him in the year after he loses his husband– the ups, the downs, the figuring out the future by coming to terms with the past.
What I loved about this book was its quiet tenderness. Sebastian’s relationship with his friend Chloe complicated and yet the author writes their dialogue in an endearing way. When Sebastian begins to see things, namely his husband’s ghost, it is not overly dramatic. Through those moments we feel Sebastian’s grief, and maybe relate it to our own loss.
This is where The Truth About Goodbye shines for me. It is not “just” an LGBT novel simply because it has a main character who is gay. But it is also more than “just” a love story– it’s a story of hope and encouragement. I loved that you could easily switch the sexuality of the main character and still have the same touching story and sentiment. Books become very powerful when, even if the reader can’t identify with the main character in some ways, they realize that the overarching feelings of love, loss, and redemption are the same.
The Truth About Goodbye can be purchased here!