A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Novel offers readers a powerful window into the everyday lives and struggles of teens dealing with mental illness, but takes place during summer, so readers don't get a sense (aside from a few brief flashbacks) of how the two teens will cope when they return to school and have to interact with students who won't treat them with understanding and acceptance.
You don't need to be defined by the losses or the struggles in your life.
Positive Role Models
Naima and Drew have had their lives turned inside out not just by their mental illnesses, but also by staggering losses. In spite of this, both become determined to try to be part of the world around them rather than running from it.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple of kisses.
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Occasional strong language: "f--k," "damn," "s--t," "hell," "crap."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Candace Ganger's Six Goodbyes We Never Said is the story of two teens confronting mental health challenges as well as profound loss and grief. Seventeen-year-old Naima Rodriquez has OCD, GAD (general anxiety disorder), and PTSD, and she's grieving the death of her soldier father. Fifteen-year-old Drew Diaz Brickman, still processing the sudden death of both his parents and adjusting to a new life with adoptive parents, is battling social anxiety. Despite Naima's determination to have nothing whatsoever to do with Drew, they begin a friendship that will help both of them begin to heal. While Naima is biracial (Latinx and White) and overweight, and Drew is Latinx, their ethnicity and her weight never become significant storylines. The story unfolds in chapters narrated by both teens as well as in the text of voicemails left by Naima's father while on his last deployment and drafts of the angry email replies she never sent him. There's some profanity ("f--k," "damn," "s--t," "hell," "crap") and a couple of kisses.
Is It Any Good?
This insightful and sometimes heartbreaking novel sensitively tackles tough issues around teens struggling with both mental illness and the death of a parent. While Six Goodbyes We Never Said is fiction, Naima's and Drew's storylines come from a place author Candace Ganger knows all too well. She begins and ends the novel with powerful messages for readers who may be suffering in silence: "I am you." In the introductory author's note, she writes of sharing many of Naima's and Drew's characteristics, fears, and pains and that Naima's OCD, GAD, and PTSD are "all pieces of me." In the acknowledgements at the end of the novel, she reveals she was hospitalized during the writing of the novel and the gratitude she felt for the help she received from therapists, friends, and family.
While Naima's grandparents and Drew's adoptive parents are a constant source of love and encouragement, parents might want to caution readers that not every teen with mental health challenges will find this kind of family support.
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Our Editors Recommend
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Books That Feature Characters Living with Mental Illness
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