Skip to main content
PBS logo
Want fewer ads?

Book Review of The Beginner's Goodbye

The Beginner's Goodbye
bup avatar reviewed on + 164 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4

I always love Tyler's writing - so breezy, effortless, but still sophisticated.

So I liked the writing. I also liked a lot of the book - I identified with her protagonist, Aaron, and I felt like his wife was very real. I could picture her perfectly.

But the narrative didn't feel real. This may feel like a spoiler, but it's really not, when I tell you that Aaron's dead wife appears in the book. It's not a spoiler because he says it flat out in the first sentence.

So anyway, narrative didn't feel real. Maybe she was intentionally doing an unreliable-narrator thing; if so, it didn't work with me. At the beginning of the book, he talked as if being with his wife was a constant and common occurrence, whether people were around or no. The rest of the book, his wife's appearances are furtive, brief, and people-shy. It didn't quite jell. I found myself wondering where in the narrative the scenes described in the first pages could have occurred - they didn't seem like they would fit in any part of the grieving process.

Also, and maybe this is a nitpick, but men just don't describe clothes at length, or nearly as specifically, as Tyler does. She does it in every book. In a first-person book with a male narrator, it's just got to get cut out. No man talks about the way a sweater gathers at the collar, or goes on about pencil-skirts and how often a particular woman wears that one.

Want fewer ads?