Title: How to Say Goodbye in Robot
Author: Natalie Standiford
Genre/Audience: Young adult
Publication: Scholastic, 2009
How to Say Goodbye in Robot had been on my radar for awhile now, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it for my Forever YA book club this month. It’s a somewhat dark novel full of bizarre but unique characters, most notably Beatrice (Robot Girl) and her new friend Jonah (Ghost Boy).
Beatrice is the new girl in town yet again, and having always been a little odd herself, is surprised when she becomes friends with Jonah. Jonah has been teased since elementary school, called “Ghost Boy” by his classmates in reference to his pale looks and quiet demeanor. Beatrice has been called a robot by her mother for her lack of feelings and emotion (according to her mother).The two click though, and quickly become best friends… or maybe more. They don’t really know. Their relationship, while not romance, is definitely love, and neither really knows how to define it. They do everything together, including listening to their favorite late night radio show, The Night Lights. Both characters have some baggage to deal with, but Jonah’s family past and secret haunts him on a daily basis. Beatrice wonders if she can really save him or if he’ll disappear first, like a real ghost.
This is definitely a strange story with some very strange characters. Beatrice has some unusual traits, but generally fits in well with the rest of her classmates. Jonah, on the other hand, just doesn’t fit in, period, and finds his first friend in Beatrice. While it was sweet to see them connect so strongly with one another, Jonah could be quite frustrating at times, lashing out and pulling away.
I think a lot of teens will relate to their feelings of not fitting in, of learning to love, of not knowing what their feelings really mean. I also think a lot of characters will really sympathize with Beatrice. The mystery of Jonah’s family is intriguing, and Bea has some strange family dynamics she’s dealing with as well, like a potentially crazy mother and disjointed parents.
While this isn’t a favorite, I thought it was a worthwhile read and an interesting story. If you enjoy darker stories or rooting for the underdog or misifts, you’ll enjoy this contemporary YA read.
My Rating: 3.5/5