PASTE, "Best Young Adult Books of September"
"Two teens maneuver painful routes through profound grief as well as the complex quagmire of severe mental illness... Ultimately hopeful, and readers will connect with the messy, visceral lives simmering on the page. Profoundly emotional and truthful." - Kirkus
"With great empathy, Ganger alternates the protagonists' points of view, revealing the way Naima navigates her OCD, anxiety and depression, and PTSD, and Dew handles his social anxiety amid their grief, loneliness, and sorrow. Through the teens' humorously awkward gravitation toward each other, Ganger creates a heartfelt, convincing story about the restorative power of self-care and friendship." - Publishers Weekly
"Naima is diagnosed by the author with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, while Dew is diagnosed with social anxiety. These issues are explored with humanizing examples that invite empathy. Sure to be reassuring to those working their way through grief." - School Library Journal
"A no-filter story of living with loss, guilt, and mental illness. Naima and Dew are a mess of imperfections, and you’ll want nothing more than for them to figure out how to be okay(ish) again." - Rebecca Barrow, author of This is What It Feels Like
"Candace Ganger weaves a beautiful story of loss, grief and the struggle to move on in Six Goodbyes We Never Said. One of the realest voices of our generation, Ganger infuses this story with relatable, flawed teens who must learn how to cope in this world or be lost forever. I laughed and cried while reading and this book will stick with me for ages." - Jessica Burkhart, editor of Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles
"Six Goodbyes We Never Said is a knowing tour de force filled with crackling wit, pain, and mini, freeze-dried marshmallows. Original and funny, the best parts may be found in the small moments, especially Ganger’s hilarious, spot-on dialogue, as well as tucked within the brilliantly-placed parentheticals. All that and a bowl of Lucky Charms. Or maybe six boxes." - Gae Polisner, award-winning author of The Memory of Things and In Sight of Stars
"Pure, raw emotion. Naima and Dew broke my heart from the opening pages, with the intensity and honesty of their grief. But it is how they come to healthrough family, unlikely but unconditional, connected by the wounded places in themselvesthat will stay with me. Ganger’s rendering of loss is complicated, unflinching, and ultimately beautiful." - Jared Reck, author of A Short History of the Girl Next Door
"Candace Ganger’s heartbreakingly honest, raw story of two teens struggling with grief and mental illness in the wake of incomprehensible loss is a moving testament to the power of human connection and forgiveness. Dew and Naima will stay in your heart long after the final page." - Robin Reul, author of My Kind of Crazy
"Naima and Dew show such ferocious tenacity as they fight their way through enormous, all-consuming loss; I couldn't help but love and root for them. Their story will break your heart and heal your soul." - Misa Sugiura, award-winning author of It's Not Like It's a Secret
Gr 7 Up—Naima Rodriguez is struggling to cope with the recent loss of her father, who was serving in the military overseas. Now living with her grandparents, she counts the hexagons on her quilt and does everything in increments of six to stave off her palpable grief. Using a voice recorder to keep distance by recording observations as news headlines, Dew-Was-Diaz-Brickman is trying to settle into his adoptive family after tragically losing his own parents. He is looking for a friend who can understand his loss and reaches out to Naima, who is slow to warm up. Eventually both make progress with their grief, separately and together. While the book opens with a two-page trigger warning, the nature of the content is more likely to comfort than to cause distress. Naima is diagnosed by the author with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, while Dew is diagnosed with social anxiety. These issues are explored with humanizing examples that invite empathy. The split narrative is interspersed with old voicemails from Naima's dad, and the email drafts she never sent in response. The story includes many colorful secondary characters, particularly Dew's adoptive sister Faith, who develops an interest in professional wrestling that helps her deal with her own problems. VERDICT Sure to be reassuring to those working their way through grief.—Alex Graves, Manchester City Library, NH
Two teens maneuver painful routes through profound grief as well as the complex quagmire of severe mental illness.
Seventeen-year-old biracial (Latinx and white), bristly Naima is spending the summer with her grandparents in Indiana. She never forgave her father for leaving on multiple military tours, but now that he's given his life in service of his country, she's angrier than ever. Fifteen-year-old sweet-tempered, Latinx Dew lives next door with his adoptive parents following his parents' deaths. He prefers communicating via tape recorder and is convinced that he and Naima can help each other. They're both adrift in their devastating new realities. The teens' mental illnesses—Dew's social anxiety; Naima's OCD, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and PTSD—are conveyed in a realistic and poignant manner. Naima is fat and pansexual while Dew has severe food allergies, and the protagonists' multilayered, intersectional identities make them all the more believable. Dew's fixation on and out-loud narration of his observations of Naima are intrusive and border on inappropriate, and others join Naima in deeming such behavior disrespectful while supporting her in setting boundaries. The teens benefit from an unflagging support system, which also provides alternate reflections for navigating grief. The novel is ultimately hopeful, and readers will connect with the messy, visceral lives simmering on the page.
Profoundly emotional and truthful. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-adult)