cover image The Good Goodbye

The Good Goodbye

Carla Buckley. Bantam, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-553-39058-2

Two families come to terms with a devastating tragedy in Buckley’s (The Deepest Secret) latest. Arden and Rory Falcone have always considered themselves more like sisters than cousins, even opting to room together when they leave for the same college. A few weeks into their first semester, Arden’s mother, Natalie, receives a devastating phone call: a fire has destroyed the girls’ dorm room, killing Rory’s boyfriend, Hunter, and leaving both girls in critical condition. As Rory and Arden fight for survival, their stories unfold, and secrets emerge about the cousins’ relationships with their families, their peers, Hunter, and, of course, each other. But the secret of how the fire started is the one weighing most heavily on Natalie, and with the police and media asking relentless questions, she begins to doubt everything she knew about her own daughter and niece. Told variously from the first-person viewpoints of Natalie, Arden, and Rory, each chapter reveals a tantalizing new detail that further complicates the cousins’ bond. The three narrative voices are nearly identical, and the climactic twist feels a bit forced, but Buckley’s characters are well-developed and interesting. [em](Jan.) [/em]