Hello Goodbye
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Hello Goodbye

3.15 of 5 stars 3.15  ·  rating details  ·  581 ratings  ·  122 reviews
In a single week, a family leaves behind its past and a daughter awakens to the future in Emily Chenoweth’s intimate and beautifully crafted debut novel.
In the winter of 1990, Helen Hansen–counselor, wife, and mother in the prime of her life–is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The following August, Helen, her husband, Elliott, and their daughter, Abby, a freshman...more
Hardcover, 273 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Random House (first published April 25th 2009)
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Liberty Abbott-Sylvester
Jul 26, 2011 Liberty Abbott-Sylvester rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Liberty by: Bookshelf Bitches August Read
I honestly don't know where to begin. This book was a very emotional read for me. I wouldn't say the book is full of sad moments, it's not. I think it's because my personal life is experiencing a similar situation. This book made me cry. It made me laugh. It made me shake my head. I connected with each and every character presented. In my opinion, this book was real. It was raw. It was fantastic.

It tells the story of Elliott, Helen and Abby. Helen, the mother has been diagnosed with a terminal b...more
Wendy T
This was such a sad but beautiful story about how illness effects one family.
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
Helen returns back one morning from a refreshing run, looking forward to her day, only to get a seizure. This sends her off to plenty of hospital tests after which it is determined that Helen has inoperable brain cancer. The doctors tells her husband, Elliot, that she has 9 months, but Helen doesn't know that yet***, since it's her hope that's holding her so far. With just 3 months left out of the original estimated 9, Elliot plans to spend their wedding anniversary at the Presidential hotel in...more
OK, so I know a little of the backstory here, even though it's fiction. I recognize some of the characters' quirks. But regardless, this is an absolutely FANTASTIC book.

I was invested from the first page. And that's saying ALOT, since I'm so used to reading for analysis, not for pleasure.

I read the entire book over two days, whenever I could.

I could relate to being Abby. I could relate to the relationship between Abby and her parents and their eccentric friends. There's just something about t...more
This novel received good reviews, and was, indeed, a solid effort. It contains some lovely passages and nicely identifies some truths.

However, overall the novel is trapped somewhere between an awkward young adult novel and an unsatisfying novel for adults about a family's grief. For as many passages that pleased there were an equal number that caused a grimace ("the rustling leaves said, Hush, hush," and "In her chest, a box opened and something fell out").

The contrast between the very good ver...more
I would give this book ten stars if I could. Beautifully written, with gorgeous prose and deep emotion, it tells the tale of a woman with terminal brain cancer, and the struggle of her family to spend their last days together. A farewell gathering of old friends, wrapped up in the guise of an anniversary party, takes center stage as each person who knows and loves Helen says their goodbyes. Her husband and daughter each connect to Helen in their own way, and the emotion is so heartfelt and real....more
I did not enjoy this book. This was a book I started reading with the hopes of it getting better and by the time i was halfway through it I wanted it to be over. I found it very slow moving with little hills throughout. something small would happen and then you would be back to mundane everyday living...something small...back to everyday living, etc. The positive in this book is I do think it did well touching on the characters feelings about death and showing how each dealt with it. However, I...more
I really wanted to like this more than I did. Tragedy combined with coming of age is like catnip for me. However, I felt like the characters weren't really fleshed out, relying on our cultural sterotypes for the characters rather than showing them through the story. Which sort of makes sense to me when I read that the author based it on her own similar experiences. With such a painful personal experience, it's hard to bring that pain to the story. I didn't fall in love with or strongly identify...more
Robin Rountree
There wasn't anything I didn't like about this book...but I just don't think it will stick with me. Well written characters, especially the teenage daughter. However, this is a book more about a weekend and how a terminal illness effects the people involved...not a lot of "plot".
I had read such good reviews of this book, but was disappointed. It started out well, but then the pace of the book became so slow. It did not hold my interest, and the subject matter was very depressing.
A sweet and smartly written book about the cycle of life; beginnings and endings. This was the author's first novel and one containing deep truths about grief, aging, love and uncertainties. It tells the story about a woman in her mid 40's who is dying of brain cancer. To mark her upcoming 20th anniversary-her husband arranges for a week-long stay at a resort in the mountains of NH that sounds exactly like the MT Washington Hotel. He also arranges for 6 friends to come and celebrate with them ov...more
Have you ever imagine how heavy the duty would be for a man when his wife is about to leave this beautiful world? We can never be able to feel the pressure he has inside.The protagonist, Elliot, who attempts to keep best smile and comfort toward his wife. Hellen, the wife of Elliot, encounters an illness of a tumor inside her brain. Life becomes a risk to her in which she can leave in any time. He uses his best ability and strength to protect his wife and his daughter. Although his self-esteem w...more
Mindy Conde
At first I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book - it had the potential to be a long and depressing story filled with repetition of the pain of grief. However, Chenoweth exceeded my expectations and offered a novel that was so sincere and realistic that it often had me crying. This is certainly going to be a book I remember to offer friends going through the loss of a loved one. The best part about this book is that it covers different types of grieving - by switching perspectives between...more
Courtney Gontz
I was very disappointed with the book. When I read the plot, I had some high expectations. It started off slow, and I hoped and prayed that it would pick up....but it didn't. There was a lot of unnecessary flashes between the past and present, which became a bit confusing at times. I also found myself getting highly agitated at the daughter for looking for love while on what could be the last vacation her mother will ever be going on. I found her selfish and wanted to slap her and ask her how sh...more
Mary Lou
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie Holcomb
I'm surprised the overall rating of this book isn't higher. It's well written, and flows beautifully, but while a little flawed (I'll get into that in a minute), I enjoyed spending my time with it.

One of my major complaints in novels, particularly novels that are best sellers and ones people gush all over about (The Notebook, anyone?) is that every character is similar, everyone is beautiful and perfect, and you have no surprises, no hurdles, no conflict.

My 2011 started out badly--I had a car a...more
Marnie Kaplan
There is something about the cover of this novel that perfectly matches the style of the writing. I think it is the feather that the title sits on. There is something feathery about the style of this novel. It is incredibly slow-paced, in the sense that the whole novel (273 pages) takes place over a short period of time. First we have the diagnosis of the protagonist with a brain tumor. Then we have an amount of days resembling a week in the August that follows. While the story begins with Helen...more
Sep 12, 2011 Deana rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who has dealt with cancer in a family member or close friend.
Recommended to Deana by: Bookshelf Bitches
Shelves: 2011, read-library, cancer
This is the story of how the members of a small family cope with the fact that the mother/wife is diagnosed with brain cancer, as well as a sort of coming-of-age of the teenaged daughter. With regard to both of those major life occurrences, the book is extremely well written. The moods conveyed are appropriate, and the author is sure to show both the bad and the good.

I didn't care for the way the book was written -- in third person with the perspective changing each chapter. Normally I don't min...more
Aug 29, 2009 Candice rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Elizabeth Berg
A very good read. This is Emily Chenoweth's first novel, and I hope she will write many more. It reminded me a lot of Elizabeth Berg's novels. There is lots of detail in the everyday things, lots about relationships, too.

It is the story of a woman, Helen, dying of a brain tumor. She, her husband, and their 18-year-old daughter invite the couple's friends to celebrate their 20th anniversary at a New Hampshire resort, but it's really a time to say good-bye to Helen. A particularly poignant part of...more
This is a beautiful heart-warming story about the Hansen family. This family of three heads to New Hampshire to spent one week together on vacation and for Abby's parents to celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary. But this isn't any ordinary special occasion. It's going to be one for Helen, Abby and Elliott Hansen to remember. We see it through their eyes, when they deal with Helen's terminal diagnosis of brain cancer, when she has three more months left to life. In Hello Goodbye, we see...more
While this book doesn't neatly wrap up in a tidy package, it is a very human story. The writer does a very good job of creating a host of characters, most of whom are made real by their honest (and haphazard) attempts to grapple with terminal illness. There were times when I wanted to smack Elliot and Abby for their seeming selfish attitudes; the voice of Helen was fragile and precious, and I wish the reader were given more chances to hear the story from her perspective.
This story has many laye...more
Let me start by saying that despite what the blurbage said, this was not "luminous" (I strongly suspect that people don't quite understand what the word means).

Helen has a brain tumor, which her husband knows is inoperable and untreatable, and she has fewer than nine months to live. Eliott's response is to invite all their close friends to a 20th anniversary vacation at the Presidential Hotel in New Hampshire, at which he will tell everyone about Helen's condition. Even Abby, their daughter, do...more
4 stars

Helen Hansen has terminal brain cancer, and only her husband Elliot knows the full extent of her condition. Elliot plans a getaway vacation for his family, and he invites friends of the family to join them for a few days to create some final memories with Helen. The story unfolds during this week in New Hampshire, and chapters alternate from Helen's point of view, to Elliot's, to their daughter Abby's, and back and forth again and again.

While this book is extremely poignant and heartachi...more
As depressing and sad as this book was, I absolutely loved it. And I hate cliched phrases like "this book was beautifully written," but, well, it was.

I really thought Chenoweth nailed her characters--especially Abby and Elliott.

Chenoweth's portrayal of Abby's struggle to find herself after experiencing her first semester of college was infinitely relatable. And I loved Abby's mental game--if I hit this tree, with this rock, my mother will be okay; if I see 3 yellow cars in a row, things will b...more
Is it bad to admit that my favorite thing about this book was the cover? I picked this book up from the library and was intrigued by the premise. While it sounded a little somber, an exploration of life and loss, I thought it was worth a shot. Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed with this book. It was very well written, but I just couldn't connect to it. I kept waiting for the story to pick up and hoping I'd become more attached to the characters. I was halfway through when I realized I sti...more
Sweet, sad book about endings and beginnings. Abby, a college freshman is home for the summer and staying at a posh New Hampshire hotel with her family. Her parents, Helen and Elliot are celebrating their 20th anniversary and have invited their closest friends to celebrate with them. In the midst of a celebration, it is an ending because it is also an opportunity for these friends to say goodbye to Helen who has terminal cancer and has been given a matter of months to survive. It is a beginning...more
Emily Chenoweth's first novel pairs good writing with a thoughtful but provocative pace. I cared about the characters from the start. A newly collegiate Abby comes home to a vacation with her mother, Helen, who has brain cancer. The vacation takes place at a hotel where a cast of characters, life-time friends of Helen's and her husband Elliot gather. Partly a coming-of-age story, this novel intertwines an appreciation and bitter-sweet yearning for more time in a life well-lived.

A realistic story about a woman who has brain cancer and months to live (but doesn't realize it) and her daughter who is learning to live. Elliot, Helen's husband and Abby's father, has taken them to New Hampshire for a week so that Helen's friends can come to visit (and say good bye). Emily Chenoweth has done a good job of painting a portrait of people affected by illness, impending death and loss. She writes in a lovely, albeit slow way. This book is really just a glimpse into a family's grief...more
When I first started reading this, I couldn't decide whether I liked it or not. The pace is slow at first, and the plot doesn't seem to go anywhere intriguing in the first few chapters. The characters were also hard to keep track of at times; they all seemed to blend together at one point.

The book starts to pick up towards the end, though, and I found myself emotionally invested in Abby, one of the main characters. Chenoweth writes with such poise and uses deft descriptions that manage to turn t...more
Carol Eshaghy
This is the sorry of a mother dying of cancer and it's effect on her family and friends. Beautifully written.
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Emily Chenoweth is a former fiction editor of Publishers Weekly. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Bookforum, and People, among other publications. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
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