Sunday, 6 October 2019

When We Say Goodbye by Michelle Vernal

When We Say Goodbye by Michelle Vernal
Published by Orion tomorrow, the 7th October 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Can you love when all seems lost?

Ellie Perkins life was right on track until her boyfriend Sam suffers a near-fatal car accident, leaving him in a coma and all their future plans in limbo.

Desperately in need of something to fix, Ellie has to find a project and when her grandparents old house is put up for sale, she jumps at the chance. Because, like Ellie, the house is broken. And if she can fix the house, then surely, it's just a matter of time before she and Sam are back on their path to happily-ever-after...

In life, when the worst happens how do you pick up the pieces?

A heart-breaking story of love, loss and the path to forgiveness, perfect for fans of Faith Hogan and Amanda Prowse. To be read with tissues.

I've enjoyed reading a Michelle Vernal novel before, The Promise, so was happy to spot her newest work, When We Say Goodbye, on NetGalley. I enjoyed this story even more! It's a tearjerker and also a thoughtful study of grief, illustrating how Ellie struggles to put her own life back together after her boyfriend's terrible car crash. Don't let me mislead you into thinking When We Say Goodbye is a depressing read though. It isn't! Quite the opposite in fact and I think this novel might even be a help for readers experiencing grief of their own. Certainly I recognised elements such as Ellie's 'grief grenades' which sneak up on her and which she must learn to manage.

I loved Vernal's parallel portrayals of the physically broken house and the emotionally broken woman. Seeing repairs gradually being undertaken on both is an inspired idea. Ellie's relationships with the people around her are also vital to this story and I appreciated the variety of people trying to support her, each in their own way. Individuality is important here as is shown by Ellie's love of wearing upcycled clothing (I love the early Madonna theme to her outfits!). However creating and maintaining strong interpersonal connections is just as vital and Vernal shows that the concept of family can encompass more than just our immediate blood relatives.

Vernal is being compared to Amanda Prowse and I am sure readers who like Prowse novels will also appreciate When We Say Goodbye. Personally I would say that I find Vernal to be the more rewarding of the two, for my tastes at least. I feel she has a greater sensitivity with her emotional scenes and themes. Ultimately heart-warming, and with a convincing personal journey at its heart, When We Say Goodbye is an ideal novel to curl up with as the autumn evenings draw in.

Etsy Find!
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Kidderminster, England

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Books by Michelle Vernal / Women's fiction / Books from New Zealand


  1. That sounds like it would be a very emotional read.

    1. Vernal nearly had me in tears a couple of times!

  2. This sounds like a tear jerker for sure! I'd be a sobbing mess if I tried to read this one! I cry at the drop of hat during movies/books/tv shows. I'm weird like that lol

    1. I appreciated that Vernal's writing was emotional without going over the top