Goodbye from Nowhere

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Apr. 2020. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062434685.
Gr 9 Up–Kyle’s world is thrown into upheaval when he finds out, en route to a family gathering, that his mother is having an affair. He angrily retreats from his life, including his girlfriend and varsity baseball. As his extended family gathers repeatedly at the family farm and ultimately to say goodbye to the farm, Kyle works through his anger, leans on his cousins and sisters for support, and has tough conversations with his parents—eventually finding closure with all of his life changes. This book is an exploration of what it means to love people in spite and because of their imperfections—and how to reconcile those imperfections with our expectations. The themes explored are worthy and complicated, yet the writing falls short of Zarr’s own standard. With a large cast of characters, Zarr provides a nuanced depiction of the adults and gives them rich inner lives; yet this is done at the expense of the teen characters, Kyle in particular. His character is defined entirely by circumstances and his obsession with his cousin Emily.
VERDICT An additional purchase for teen-serving libraries where there is a high demand for realistic fiction.

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