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Publisher's Summary

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 free.

"You made me hit you in the face", he said mournfully. "Now everyone is going to know." "I know", I said. "I’m sorry."

Kelly Sundberg’s husband, Caleb, was a funny, warm, supportive man and a wonderful father to their little boy Reed. He was also vengeful and violent. But Sundberg did not know that when she fell in love, and for years told herself he would get better. It took a decade for her to ultimately accept that the partnership she desired could not work with such a broken man. In her remarkable book, she offers an intimate record of the joys and terrors that accompanied her long, difficult awakening, and presents a haunting, heartbreaking glimpse into why women remain too long in dangerous relationships.

To understand herself and her violent marriage, Sundberg looks to her childhood in Salmon, a small, isolated mountain community known as the most redneck town in Idaho. Like her marriage, Salmon is a place of deep contradictions, where Mormon ranchers and hippie back-to-landers live side-by-side; a place of magical beauty riven by secret brutality; a place that takes pride in its individualism and rugged self-sufficiency, yet is beholden to church and communal standards at all costs.

Mesmerizing and poetic, Goodbye, Sweet Girl is a harrowing, cautionary, and ultimately redemptive tale that brilliantly illuminates one woman’s transformation as she gradually rejects the painful reality of her violent life at the hands of the man who is supposed to cherish her, begins to accept responsibility for herself, and learns to believe that she deserves better.

©2018 Kelly Sundberg (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A very powerful book with fantastic narration

I had a ton of first impressions about this book so I decided to give it a second listen to help solidify some of those impressions. I’ll start by saying I really “liked” this book. As much as anyone can like a book dealing with such difficult subject matter. The book tends to jump back and forth in time and while that can be cumbersome in a story I think it fits here perfectly. The story jumps around to better weave the intricate tapestry of a victim and Ms. Sundberg nailed it. I’m trying to sound like an intellectual and it really isn’t working so I’ll say this. This book speaks to me and if I’m being honest with myself I think I have been both Kelly and Caleb at least in an emotional sense at some point in my life. I think that if YOU are honest with YOURSELF, this book will speak to you. I think where this book really shines, is in its demonstration of the grit needed to walk away from a damaging situation. It’s more than just a story that helps the reader better understand what makes an abuser and what makes a victim. It’s a road map for survival. I think the hardest person to convince that you’re being abused is you. If you suspect that ANYONE (however casual of an acquaintance) is the victim of violence, please help give them the tools necessary to become safe. I think this book would fit nicely in that tool box. I wish I could give this book the review it deserves and I wish I was professional literary critic just for this book. In closing, it was a great audiobook and I am a better person for having listened to it.
***Andi Arndt did a fantastic job narrating this story.

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Grateful to Kelly S

It wasn't the story. Kelly is amazing. She lived through, escaped, and has blossomed beyond a trauma that breaks the spirit and bodies of so many. I admire her courage in articulating to us and herself the truth about who she was during the course of her marriage and I'm glad to have read her story. Abusive relationships, as Kelly does a wonderful job of emphasizing, are often characterized by simultaneously victimizing yourself and being told that everything is your fault. In the latter, your partner is the victim. You've made them that way. In the former, you're too caught up in your pain to take the appropriate responsibility, projecting your insecurities onto the other. It's a tough spot to be in. It's tougher to get out. Codependency diminishes self-respect.

I read for the art of the writing as much, if not more than, the content. I don't read a lot of memoirs and I wonder if I would feel differently if I were more accustomed to the style, but I did not love the writing. The events were heart-wrenching but the prose stunted the delivery to me.

I wish she had spent significantly less time writing about the boy who chased her with a knife, the time she was almost kidnapped, random snippets of fucked up men that she came across up until her late teens. All digs in the well of trauma, no doubt, but it felt unnecessary to me and a bit like an attack on the male as a gender. With that being said, she does dig into women who let her down in various ways as well. We are products of our environment, we develop healthy or unhealthy attachment styles early on, but I would have preferred a focus on the other end; "How I've Moved Beyond Codependency," not "What Led Me to Codependency." I can appreciate her desire to place the reader in her isolated world and to explain how her past may have led to getting trapped in a cycle of abuse, but the delivery of the buildup to her relationship with Caleb seemed to drive a wedge between me and the book.