It Started With Goodbye tells the “Cinderella” story of a girl named Tatum who is grounded all summer for an unfortunate situation that happened between her best friend and her best friend’s boyfriend. She played an unknowing part in a crime and had to pay a hefty fine and community service for her trouble. Like a Cinderella story, she has a step-mother whom she calls her “step-monster”. Her step-sister is quiet and cold to Tatum. So naturally she feels isolated regularly except her new punishment has heightened that feeling. The role of “fairy godmother” is played by Tatum’s step-grandma who is staying for the summer to help monitor Tatum’s daily actions while her dad is out of the country.
She sends a lot of emails with people over the summer, including her mystery “prince” named SK, and each time this happens we aren’t alerted to the switch between email and story line. This might seem minor but it really interrupted the flow of reading the story. A different font, or italics would have been nice here. I was a little surprised that we didn’t see more text message dialogue in this story of teenage juniors in high school.
The story is fairly predictable.
Once you tell someone it will be a Cinderella story you pick up on who is who in the story very fast. It isn’t hard to determine who in her family also has a secret. Also too easy to guess what the secret would be. The mystery boy “SK” was an obvious one. I know that was a little unavoidable in a book. It was also obvious as soon as she lost her key chain (the glass slipper in this case) that she would be getting it back in the end of the story, as well as how it would be returned to her.
I enjoyed following Tatum around through her troubled summer. I related to her days of manual labor because I spent one day at a wildlife reserve pulling plants for a college project requirement. The one day was enough, so I sympathized with her story of a whole summer in this labor. The moment she meets SK is sweet and just the right level of teen summer romance. I could remember being a teen and that innocent fun when getting to know your crush. That is about where I started to lose interest though. Being a mother myself, I didn’t believe the makeup moment between Tatum and her dad. Without revealing the story, I’ll say that it didn’t feel realistic in the way it happened. Also unrealistic (in my opinion) was the turnaround of the step-monster. It was too much and too quickly for a real person. Overall, the adults and their methods of parenting just weren’t quite realistic to me. Perhaps I need to broaden my parenting horizons. 🙂
All in all, a good read for the teenage audience. I think they could relate to Tatum and her angst. I’m sure several teens will identify with her. Hopefully they’ll appreciate her growth and maturity toward the end of the story.