Review: Time to Say Goodbye by S.D. Robertson

Wednesday 20 January 2016
Title: Time to Say Goodbye
Author: S.D. Robertson
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 11th February 2015
Pages: 400
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Will Curtis’s six-year-old daughter, Ella, knows her father will never leave her. After all, he promised her so when her mother died. And he’s going to do everything he can to keep his word.

What Will doesn’t know is that the promise he made to his little girl might be harder to keep than he imagined. When he’s faced with an impossible decision, Will finds that the most obvious choice might not be the right one.

But the future is full of unexpected surprises. And father and daughter are about to embark on an unforgettable journey together...

Intrigued by waterproof mascara and tissues, I picked up Time to Say Goodbye expecting it to leave me an emotional wreck and whilst it was an emotional read in places, it didn't have that lasting effect on me like Me Before You (a fair comparison to make seeing as it's being used to help promote this book). This is also an incredibly difficult book to discuss without spoilers and so this review is inevitably going to contain some, so read on with that warning.

Have you ever read a book where it's so good before you've even reached the halfway point that you just want to talk about it already? That's what happened with Time to Say Goodbye, and it led to me proclaiming about how people should pre-order it before I'd even finished the book. Then, the halfway point came and went and things started happening that I just didn't see coming, and the book went off on a bit of a tangent I didn't really become all that invested in (or care about, to be honest) and so it kind of ruined things a little bit for me. An ambiguous comment I know, but I can't exactly give away the story.

The blurb doesn't go into great detail but for those that don't mind knowing, the story centres around Will Curtis. After the death of his wife he made a promise to his young daughter that he would never leave her, not expecting that one day he would be knocked off his bicycle by a woman in a gas guzzler hours before he was due to pick his daughter up from school. Will 'awakens' from the accident and can witness everything happening around him, the shock and horror of it all, and yet nobody can see him. He is, essentially, a 'ghost' but he doesn't as yet have any idea how his spirit is living on, or why. His only concern at the minute is collecting his daughter from school, but when he arrives to do so his daughter looks right through him, assuring her teacher that her daddy is just running late. Soon, his parents arrive to break the heartbreaking news.

One of my favourite films of all-time is Ghost and that film gets a namecheck as Will begins to make sense of his new world. He's not completely alone as he soon meets his spirit guide who offers him help and guidance and eventually, understanding of exactly what's going on. Will chooses to remain behind because he is adamant that he will be able to connect with his daughter, and for them to eventually say goodbye to each other. It is an emotional read in places, and you can really feel the anger and frustration that Will feels at not only being unable to get through to his daughter (at first) but also at his death, and we learn more about what happens to the woman that killed him.

Time to Say Goodbye is an incredibly thought-provoking book and I imagined how I would react myself in a situation like this (as both parent and child). I've always been of the opinion that when we die, that's it. We cease to exist. We don't fly up and live in the sky nor do we float around as a lost spirit witnessing everything that's going on. Or at least I hope we don't because after reading this book it would just be unbearable. I also don't like the fact that Will was able to witness so many personal moments in the grieving process from both the point of view of his daughter and his parents. It just felt weird to me and I wouldn't like to witness something like that myself. There's also a couple of times the plot didn't make a whole lot of sense. One thing in particular to me was the whole time travel scenario. At one point Will is offered the chance to go back in time and change things. But, this changes things for everybody and so every single person in the world will have their lives rolled back because of the choices of one dead spirit? I guess I'm overthinking things but it just remained in my mind when I finished the book.

All that said there are some truly heartwarming moments between father and daughter and I could easily see this being made into a film featuring two famous Hollywood stars who would turn it into another blockbuster. It certainly has all the hallmarks of what would make a successful film and I'd certainly be one of the first to go out and see it. It's a believable portrayal of a young girl, and Will's daughter, Ella grows up probably faster than a young child should ever have to as the story progresses. One thing that I particularly enjoyed was the ending, it was one of those that could have went a number of different ways and each one could have worked and also, each one would probably have left me with some issues which I think is one of the great things about it. This is definitely a marmite book and it's certainly a book I recommend everybody picks up. It's one I think people will take different things from and it would create a lively and interesting debate amongst any book club.

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