Title: How to Say Goodbye
Author: Amber Lin
Format: Paperback & eBook, 274 pages
Published: April 4, 2014 by Amber Lin
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Amy has a secret: no one’s ever held her hand. She doesn’t even know how to hug. Everyone thinks she’s smart, but straight A's are way easier than making friends. Then she meets Dane, a golden-haired surfer whose easy charm and hot touch teach her what she longs to know.
Dane lives for the salty breeze and a sweet wave, because that’s all he has. He’s been on the streets since he was fourteen. A drifter. Homeless. Then he meets Amy. Smart and accomplished, she’s everything he’s not. He wants to be the sort of man who deserves her.
Except that means facing down his past—and that past might very well swallow them both.
Amy has had all her basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing provided for her but at the age of nineteen she has never been hugged nor had her hand held. Dane has been on his own since he was fourteen and now four years later has learned how to provide for himself on the streets. Amy is automatically drawn to Dane when she sees him building a sand castle but past fears keep both wary. Amy and Dane are just discovering who they truly are but can they break free from the chains their pasts have shackled them in?
How to Say Goodbye was a New Adult story that vastly differed from the majority flooding the market right now. There is angst but it stemmed from Amy's emotionally sterile childhood and feelings of abandonment while Dane's involved childhood trauma and the issues that come with living on the streets. They are both very guarded characters that shy away from moving too fast but also deal with the hormones from being so young. They click right away, their connection seemed a little unbelievable and rushed at times, but have a bumpy road to travel.
Amy was dismayingly shy in the beginning, which fit in with how she was raised, but with every interaction with Dane, the reader saw and felt as she began to gain more confidence and come into her own. By the end, I was legitimately happy for her transformation and its slow and steady build up was believable. This was a little steamier with its bedroom scenes than some New Adult, which I liked, but Amy's sexual adventurous actions didn't always feel natural. Dane was our bad boy who fantastically didn't even come close to the word "bad" in all the ways that matter. He was kind, gentle, respectful, and always asking Amy how soon and how far; no pushy man whore here. Dane's childhood trauma relayed in all the words not specifically put to print was despairing to read and probably the story for a lot of unnamed children out in the world. The normal in its abnormal way the author had Dane living his life as a homeless boy flowed realistically and felt natural. It was again in the things left blatantly unsaid, how boys can earn quick cash if homeless, that packed the most punch and gave this story major heft.
Together, Amy and Dane were two sweetly awkward teenagers with some major baggage. The way the story is written, almost with a lyrical tone, made it flow and be a quick read. There were times too, though, that its tone felt a little too self-indulgent. I was harkened back to my teenage years where everything was magnified and a little too important. However, if the target audience is for new adults, which I am not, then this tone would probably sit better. I also thought the ending and Dane's issues with his father were rushed and the drama involving a misinterpreted email was completely unnecessary. The secondary characters from Amy's co-workers to Dane's friends provided good backdrops if not a little thin but supported our main couple while allowing them to shine.
If you like New Adult genre reads, then you will definitely want to give this one a try. Amy and Dane's separate and together story had real heart to it and Amy's personal growth will invigorate your sense of hope.