Author: Laurie Frankel
Published: August 2012 – Doubleday
Hardcover: 304 pages
Synopsis: (from back of the arc) Sam Elling works for an internet dating company, but he still can’t get a date. So he creates an algorithm that will match you with your soul mate. Sam meets the love of his life, a coworker named Meredith, but he also gets fired when the company starts losing all their customers to Mr. and Ms. Right.
When Meredith’s grandmother, Livvie, dies suddenly, Sam uses his ample free time to create a computer program that will allow Meredith to have one last conversation with her grandmother. Mining from all her correspondence—email, Facebook, Skype, texts—Sam constructs a computer simulation of Livvie who can respond to email or video chat just as if she were still alive. It’s not supernatural, it’s computer science.
Meredith loves it, and the couple begins to wonder if this is something that could help more people through their grief. And thus, the company RePose is born. The business takes off, but for every person who just wants to say good-bye, there is someone who can’t let go.
In the meantime, Sam and Meredith’s affection for one another deepens into the kind of love that once tasted, you can’t live without.
My take: In the beginning I had an issue with this novel – you shouldn’t mess with grief. We need to grieve when a loved one dies, right? But should we rely solely on our memories or could we benefit from technology – really, it’s almost a constant in our daily lives anyway. Laurie Frankel’s characters remind us that people grieve differently. To some it’s a very personal and singular process but others might be open to controlling the process through unorthodox means. After turning the last page I decided I’m somewhere in the middle. Maybe I would and maybe not.
I’m so glad I read Goodbye for Now. It compelled me to consider things I haven’t been faced with thus far in my life – primarily the death of a close loved one – with the exception being my father-in-law who died several years ago from Alzheimer’s. That’s a grief process all unto itself.
There are a few issues that could be hot topics for book groups. I enjoyed the almost allegorical modern love story of Meredith and Sam as well as the theme that we must look after each other (loved ones, acquaintances, strangers) in this life.
Disclosure: See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.