Sarah's Reviews > Say Her Name

Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman
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's review
Oct 24, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: books-that-made-me-cry
Read in April, 2011

The first time I read "Say Her Name" I was somewhat unimpressed. It wasn't a BAD read - I enjoyed Goldman's writing, it just didn't click for me. It took me several days to finish, which is unusual for me (I'm a book in one afternoon kind of gal).

Then I couldn't stop thinking about it. Other narratives brought it to mind, and the story itself preyed on my mind. I opened it again and read it start to finish in one marathon session, and it was like reading a whole different book. I'm not sure what changed, whether it was my state of mind the first time I read it, or if it just needed time to marinate in my brain. Either way, I now believe "Say Her Name" to be one of the best books on memory and grief I've ever read.

The narrative structure reminds me of a description I read recently of "Beloved," in that Goldman circles the main event starting at a great distance, slowly coming closer as he becomes more able to deal with the grief of losing Aura. If you need a linear narrative, this is utterly not the book for you. This is, to me, a realistic narrative: one that follows the flow of grief and its many twists and turns.

Yet, beyond grief, I feel that this is one of the most brilliant books on memory and its power over us. It invokes a strange feeling that, while we're reading, Aura is still alive. By sharing his memories with us, Goldman assures that she lives on in the minds of thousands of people, a literary afterlife if ever there was one.

I see a lot of people classifying this as a love story, and while love is at the heart of what Goldman is writing about, I wouldn't call it that. The point is not, to me, that he loved - the point is that he lost and is willing to share that loss with us, to our benefit as readers.

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