When I came across Jamie Zeppa’s novel, Every Time We Say Goodbye, I was intrigued. The story held promise, a tale of family, of relationships broken and lost, so I took a chance. Boy, did it delight!
A Canadian author, Zeppa weaves a narrative that unveils much depth to all the characters presented. Relationships are tested and the concept of love is fractured into an array of colours. Maternal love is poised in a precarious position, choices reveal character definitions and time spins everyone into different directions.
There are many things I enjoyed about this book, prime being the writing style. Zeppa has a flair for the poetic. She creates sentences with such nimble agility that the reader has no choice but to allow him/herself to be swept through this story. I breezed through this 342-pager in a mere 2 days and not because it was an easy read. Saying so might diminish the value and depth of the content, but it was a read that was not difficult to navigate. It was seamless, it flowed beautifully. It was heavy in emotional content, and at times I found myself having to tear away from my attachment to the characters by taking a break from the book. Zeppa creates a world where the reader, although an audience looking into the lives of the many characters, can feel a part of their lives.
The characters are well-considered and painted in rich colours, each manifesting human qualities that make them seem real. I couldn’t help but wonder if this story takes from some threads of Zeppa’s own life because she tells it with such authority on the subject of family, relationships, loss and love. This book is told from the perspective of four specific characters: Grace, Dawn, Laura and Dean. My heart was particularly wrenched by the character of Grace, a character rife with her own foibles and strengths. Grace is presented as a stoic character, the ‘acceptor’ of all action that takes place around her. At some times, the reader might even shrug Grace off as boneless and feel frustrated with her choices, but Zeppa leaves room for redemption as the ultimate test is presented to Grace’s character. The characters of Dean and Laura in many cases act as fillers for the narrative. However, Zeppa has taken much care to develop these characters and layer their lives with action, belief, thought and intense feelings. Dawn’s character is quite richly entrusted with different tiers.
And if one were to think that authors are good at writing from the perspective of just one or two age groups or a specific gender, Zeppa blows that assumption to smithereens. She tells this gripping story from the perspective of a little girl, a teenage boy, a middle-aged woman and the elderly. Every character, no matter how much ‘line-time’ he/she is allotted, is developed into a complete person. Adding quirks and packing in detail in necessary places and sometimes unexpected but welcome ones, Zeppa hooks you into this world of a family struggling to connect on so many different levels.
Zeppa touches on a variety of themes with a few as her front-runners. She deals with the theme of Mental Illness quite well. Dexterously and with much sensitivity, she paints the experience of depression for the reader, instead of throwing out a label and colouring the reader’s perspective from the very beginning. In doing so, she brings much-needed awareness to depression and elicits an empathy and understanding for those who suffer from the same. As well, the theme of Motherhood really jumps off the pages in this book because Zeppa does such a phenomenal job of portraying it from so many different angles. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, mothers and their adult children everywhere will appreciate the messages of maternal bonds, sacrifice and most importantly love that Zeppa has to offer.
I would recommend this if you’re into the themes of mental illness, family, maternal bonds, relationship struggles, loss, sacrifice and love, just the everyday messiness of living. A poetic read that keeps you hooked around the suspense-filled turns until the unveiling at the end, this book is well worth the time. If you happen to read Every Time We Say Goodbye, be sure to drop a line letting me know what you thought of the same!
Happy Mother’s Day to all you lovely moms out there!
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