Good Riddance

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ELINOR LIPMAN

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

February 5, 2019

304 Pages

Goodreads | Amazon | BN

Daphne Maritch is going through a rough patch. She’s 31 and freshly divorced (after a whirlwind romance…and even shorter marriage). Her recently widowed father is also struggling, so, in an effort to support each other and make a fresh start, the two decide to move to New York to see what new adventures await them.

While unpacking boxes, Daphne uncovers a yearbook her late mother left to her in her will. It’s very worn, with all kinds of, hm, colorful notes written in the margins. It’s no secret that June Maritch was one of the most popular teachers at the high school where she taught many years back. In fact, this particular yearbook was even dedicated to her. But Daphne isn’t the sentimental type, so she throws it away. Unfortunately for her, it falls into the hands of her nosy neighbor (and aspiring documentary film maker) Geneva, who concludes that the yearbook is full of untapped drama and decides to further investigate June and her relationships with her former students. Drama, predictably, ensues.

This book has such an interesting premise, and I was so looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, between the wholly unsympathetic characters and unbelievable plot twists, I had a hard time connecting with it. I wanted to be on Daphne’s side, but man-oh-man, the girl sure can whine. Even over the smallest grievances, she works herself up into an adolescent tizzy. She’s moody, quick-tempered, and lazy, and I just couldn’t get past her unfailing ability to demonstrate a complete lack of common sense in nearly every quasi-problematic situation. Her steamy, dreamy, younger neighbor, Jeremy, admittedly does provide a refreshing foil to her predictably dramatic outbursts. I enjoyed reading the back and forth between the two of them. I only wish Jeremy had a stronger presence in the story.

There are, however, two bright and shining characters who I absolutely loved: Daphne’s father and her (now deceased) mother. Her father is grounded, sweet, and relatable. And her mother. Wow, I wish the whole book had been about her. I wanted to know more of her story, even up until the end. She comes across as smart, mysterious, beguiling. I wish I could have peeled back the layers of her life more fully.

Despite my grievances with Good Riddance, I still zipped through it in no time. It’s a light and fluffy story, and even though it didn’t deliver as well as it could have, I never considered not finishing it. This is one of those books you pick up at the airport, read for a few hours on the plane, and never think about again. It’s not a life-changing book, but it’s enjoyable in its way.


Big thank you to Edelweiss and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the ARC!

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