Hello Goodbye: A Novel
, 2009 - Fiction
- 273 pages
In a single week, a family leaves behind its past and a daughter awakens to the future in Emily Chenoweth’s intimate and beautifully crafted debut novel.
In the winter of 1990, Helen Hansen–counselor, wife, and mother in the prime of her life–is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The following August, Helen, her husband, Elliott, and their daughter, Abby, a freshman in college, take a trip to northern New Hampshire, where Helen will be able to say goodbye to a lifetime of friends. Ensconced in a historic resort in the White Mountains–a place where afternoon cocktails are served on the veranda and men are expected to wear jackets after six–the Hansens and their guests must improvise their own rituals of remembrance and reconnection.
For Elliott, the trip is a parting gift to his beloved wife, as well as some needed respite from the caretaking duties that have become his main work. For Helen and the procession of old friends who come to pay their respects, the days offer a poignant celebration of a dear, too-brief life. And for Abby, still unaware that her mother’s cancer is terminal, the week brings a surprising conflict between loyalty and desire as, drawn by the youthful, spirited hotel staff, she finds herself caught between the affections of two very different young men.
Heartbreaking and luminous, Hello Goodbye deftly explores a family’s struggle with love and loss, as a summer vacation becomes an occasion for awakening rather than farewell, and life inevitably blossoms in the face of death.