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Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,477 ratings  ·  207 reviews
In this brave and beautiful memoir, written with the raw honesty and devastating openness of The Glass Castle and The Liar’s Club, a woman chronicles how her marriage devolved from a love story into a shocking tale of abuse—examining the tenderness and violence entwined in the relationship, why she endured years of physical and emotional pain, and how she eventually broke ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Harper
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Elizabeth It's a memoir, which is a form of autobiography, but focused on a single issue (in this case domestic violence, self-reflection and self-discovery).
Elizabeth There is some - but not a terrible amount.

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Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is a hell of a thing to write about brutality and suffering with strength, grace, generosity and beauty. That’s precisely what Kelly Sundberg has done in her gripping memoir about marriage and domestic violence. Sundberg’s honesty is astonishing, how she laid so much of herself bare, how she did not demonize a man who deserves to be demonized. Instead, she offers a portrait of a broken man and a broken marriage and an abiding love, what it took to set herself free from it all. In shimmering, ...more
Kelly Sundberg is a survivor of domestic violence. I’m starting here because it wasn’t always clear to the author that she was experiencing domestic abuse.

Her story begins near the end and then reaches back into the past to provide context for her state of mind and how she came to be and stay in a violent relationship. Sundberg’s early life is much more complex than the simplistic lifestyle she describes. So much goes unsaid and broils underneath the surface within her family, network of friend
Rebecca Thomas
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have taught Sundberg's "It Will Look Like a Sunset" in my composition classes ever since the essay came out. Every semester, the essay enables important discussions about abuse, agency, and craft. Every semester, I have students who feel empowered enough to share their story. Every semester, I have students who say that this essay changed their way of thinking. This is the power of Sundberg's work: it is both beautifully written while simultaneously holding an important conversation about viol ...more
Jun 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm sorry, but I just didn't enjoy this book. I really wanted to. I thought I would. But I didn't. The opening is compelling and pulled me right in. However, as I read, the details really got blurry. I found it very difficult to follow Sundberg as she detailed the various relationships that led her into a violent marriage. There was too much jumping around–– while discussing one boyfriend and the relationship, there would be a sudden jump to another. For me, this dulled the impact of the message ...more
Jane Hamilton
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes I want to let a book sit with me. I have to let it sink in deeply and observe how it feels in my tissues and bones before I write about it. First off, let me say that Kelly Sundberg is a courageous, talented, skilled and generous writer--it's why I've so admired her blog through the years. You are in good hands here, readers.

Kelly Sundberg was married to a mercurial, abusive writer who was, at the beginning, ahead of her on the success scale. As that scale tipped, and envy got hold of
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
this is pretty phenomenal. i find it mostly phenomenal as a piece of self-writing, though it's also written beautifully.

i admire trauma memoirs that embrace the necessary fragmentation of trauma. once you make a memoir of trauma linear, coherent, and cogent, it seems to me you lose something. trauma never presents itself in coherent narratives and it may be okay to superimpose coherence to a traumatic experience but imo something will get lost. so i really like the back and forth that sundberg d
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
As most memoirs go, Goodbye Sweet Girl can be tough to read at times. Kelly Sundberg details her life, the beginning of her relationship, and their eventual descent into domestic abuse. The insight into why people choose to stay with their abusers and how they gather the courage to leave was raw and unfiltered. This was a real, honest take on domestic abuse. It was excellently written, yet I felt like the author was holding back a bit. It was methodical and somewhat clinical feeling, leaving me ...more
Barbara Senteney
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am not giving this book 5 stars because of the writing. The writing style is simple but surprisingly open and candid. I gave this book 5 stars because of the courage it takes to open ones whole life up to be viewed, criticized and picked part by the hungry for blood masses. To bare ones soul and admit to the shame of abuse and lay it out there before the world to step on like a rug after being walked on in life takes a special soul.It takes a survivor who wants to reach out and shake others ou ...more
Kelly Long
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a very honest and open account of being in an abusive marriage. It's also a story of hope, strength, and survival.
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I wanted my compassion to be enough to spare him any more pain. I was a woman full of wants who wanted to love someone in a way that would heal us both.

This is a really important book, and I so admire Kelly Sundberg. This isn't some book about a waif-like woman who apologizes for everything, the perfect, blameless victim. Sundberg fights back.

Please don't read that and think Sundberg is not a victim. She is. It took her years to even consider that her relationship was anything but a little tumul
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
No quitting
Never give up
Breaking free

Be prepared to be sucked into the vortex that incorporate all these words letters, ultimately feelings and emotions.
Necessary truth work layered out in a very real everyday human stain upon earth. A writer with courage and bravery to lay down her life for the reader, a writer yet again seeking truth, realisation, safety, and freedom, from pen and words.
The r
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sundberg's memoir about her abusive marriage is straight-forward, unflinching, and ultimately inspiring.

Domestic violence takes many forms, but is always damaging and demoralizing to the person being abused. It takes a great deal of strength to endure such a life, and courage to escape it.

I hope her book will help other women who are in abusive relationships find the courage to seek help and free themselves.
Renée Roehl
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
1.5 stars.

I *wish* this book had been better. It wasn't emotionally honest, it withheld emotion and didn't let the reader in. As a reader I felt nothing, but was told everything too many times in the superfluous details. I found the story redundant with excessive word fluff to pad the lack of genuine pain the author must have felt. She talks about secrets in her family, Caleb's family but doesn't seem to realize as the writer she kept secrets from us. None of the other characters besides the aut
Neelam Babul
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is commendable to write about brutality and suffering that one has endured in life at the hands of a loved one with such strength,honesty, generosity and admiration. In this gripping memoir, Kelly Sundberg talks of her about marriage and domestic violence that she experienced. I was appalled and horrified to read of her struggles, the fear she felt and the endless times she fought to save her failing marriage.

Kelly Sundberg was married to an erratic and abusive man. Both are writers and whil
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
The powerful subject of emotional and physical abuse is a story that far too many women have. Anyone is to be admired for asserting themselves in a dire situation.

It is the choppy writing that is a bit problematic. Back and forth between cities in Idaho and two distant states. Back and forth between boyfriends and her husband. Back and forth between adulthood and childhood. In and out of school. It is just not cohesive.

While understanding that the author would want to provide a context for when
Donna Hines
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Kelly Sundberg had no idea her husband had two sides. One a sweet, loving supportive father to their son Reed the other a vengeful violent explosive persona.
Her childhood was riddled with some interesting characters and power plays in Salmon Idaho. Salmon was well known for mormon's , hippies, but not as well known was the darker side of beauty and brutality.
Break out of the cage. Spread your wings and fly. Never settle. Stay safe.
Her mother would often yell at her brother Glenn but it was much
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an eloquently written memoir about one woman's experience with domestic violence. I'm trying to figure out how to relate this in a way that doesn't make it seem like I'm minimizing Sundberg's experiences, but -- one of the things that made this book powerful for me was that what Sundberg experienced is, in its own way, horrifically banal. This isn't a true crime book. It's not sensational. Evoking the patterns of a violent relationship itself, Sundberg gives us brief moments of terror an ...more
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Domestic violence is a tricky thing. While he is hitting you or shoving or slapping, leaving seems to be the obvious answer. But it’s all of the inbetween that makes it confusing. When he’s apologetic and calm.
Maybe I shouldn’t have made him mad. Maybe I shouldn’t have done what he doesn’t want me to do. Maybe if I just don’t make him mad, he won’t do it again. Maybe that was the last time. Except it rarely is the last time and it escalates. And they are too afraid to leave. What will he do whe
Christine (Queen of Books)
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, memoir
Goodbye, Sweet Girl was amazing. "A story of domestic violence and survival," this wasn't always the easiest read, but I think it's a really important one.

Sundberg talks about not only her abusive marriage in this finely crafted memoir, but also her childhood, their relationship prior to the abuse, and other aspects of her life. Her personal reflections on their relationship broke my heart, made me upset for her, and were so easy to relate to. I sped through the second half of this book because
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: from-publisher
GOODBYE, SWEET GIRL is a vivid, beautifully composed memoir about Kelly Sundberg’s tumultuous marriage to an abusive man. The narrative evokes feelings of remorse, uncertainty, and later, empowerment. It’s a compelling read, and although the disjointed timeline proves difficult to follow at times, I finished this book with a full heart.
David Ward
Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival by Kelly Sundberg (Harper Collins 2018) (362.8292). This is a harrowing tale but an extremely well-written memoir of an abused woman who tried with all the tools at her disposal to save her dying marriage to an abusive spouse.
Author Kelly Sundberg is a natural storyteller, and what she shares here is a recounting of her desperate attempts to re-ignite the love and compassion from the early years of her marriage. Unfortunately she
Brooke (Brooke's Books and Brews)
I find it very difficult to review memoirs. These are stories of peoples’ lives, their experiences and memories laid bare. That’s why I have thought for a while what to write about this book. Kelly Sundberg lays bare the story of her life, all of the ups and downs, the positives and the many negatives. The honesty actually really surprised me. And I absolutely applaud her for being brave enough to do this. Sundberg’s memoir has very difficult subject matter and most of the time it’s not even dis ...more
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Kelly Sundberg's powerful memoir of domestic violence and survival is a MUST-read. I first learned about Kelly's work through her essay, "It Will Look Like a Sunset" . The essay blew me away and led me to think about my own abusive marriage and my journey -- how I came to be there, and who I wanted to be afterwards. I'm lucky enough to have met Kelly "in real life" through the writing world, and I was so excited when this book came out, I pre-ordered it t ...more
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Author Sundberg writes chillingly about being married to a violent, yet brilliant man and how she came to be with him. What is unusual is that she did not come from a dysfunctional and/or abusive family, which is the backdrop to so many of these stories of abuse. She writes clearly about how she was able to love her husband, and even protect him, as he abused her. Beautifully, yet compactly written by a woman who had had enough.

I read an advance copy and was not compensated.
It is difficult to know what to say about this book, because this book is about things we don't talk about. It is about the little slips that happen when anger ratchets up and up behind closed doors. Hotel room doors. Apartment doors. Car doors. In the privacy of an intimate relationship.
I found myself at times shocked at Sundberg's book. Not that it is gratuitous, or anything like that, but it was just was just so honest. . . so behind the doors. Not a LifeTime depiction of domestic violence wh
Mary Blye Kramer
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it
It’s tough to know what makes a book work or not work but I wasn’t at all emotionally involved with this story. Clearly it had to be the writing because who wouldn’t be caught up in a story about domestic violence?

So I’ll take a stab at telling you why I think it didn’t work. I read once that a story usually starts many chapters into an initial draft and that seems to be a big problem here. We get the hook and then the author pretty much leaves the story. Toward the end she gives us details tha
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really appreciate Kelly Sundberg for having the courage to share her story. Maybe others who find themselves in this type of situation or in the beginning or one will find the strength to get out. I am fortunate that I am in a loving marriage. Although, my sister has not been as luckily. She has been in several abusive relationships. One of the relationships she was warned in the beginning. The other ones, the guys put on a good front before their true colors were revealed.

I saw Kelly grow st
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, edelweiss
Thank you to the publisher (via Edelweiss) for an advance e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

It's basically impossible to give a book under 5 stars when someone does what Kelly Sundberg does in this book- is able to write eloquently about the most brutal of experiences, is honest and vulnerable about what they experienced. Her abuse was horrific, and she writes openly about her path to realizing that the situation was untenable, about the support she received and the support she didn't. P
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was very disturbing not only because of the abuse but also because of the author’s perception of the relationship. It seems that the author believed that outside of the abuse that there was a beautiful relationship/friendship between her and Caleb. There didn’t seem to be any evidence of that as she described their relationship. Caleb had so many disturbing behaviors and I had the sense that there was even more darkness not revealed because it was just unspeakable. Given these behavior ...more
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
All the feels. Omg.

The only reason I didn’t give this 5 stars is that there were 2-3 sections that felt strangely out of place and more like listicles and took away from this otherwise powerful book. There were also a few places in the beginning of this memoir that overlapped a lot, borrowing from each other— in such a way that it felt like she had split certain sections apart. That part felt like it could have used a little more editing.

But enough of my nitpicking; this is a gorgeous heartbre
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It Will Look Like the Sunset Review 1 3 Nov 05, 2018 04:13PM  

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117 likes · 114 comments
“I was only ever leaving. I was leaving when he hit me. Leaving when he screamed “You are a fucking cunt!” at me. Leaving when he threw the coffee mug at me. Leaving when he chased me into the other room. Leaving when I ran into Reed’s room because I knew that Caleb would never hit me in front of his son. Reed, seemingly oblivious, always knew to go to his room during Caleb’s rages. I was leaving, but never gone.” 0 likes
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