Goodbye For Now

By Laurie Frankel

(Knopf Doubleday, $25.95, 304 pages)

Who is this author?

Laurie Frankel lives in Seattle, which may help explain the quirkiness of her second novel, after “The Atlas of Love.” BookPage has named her to its “10 Women to Watch in 2012” list. She’s writing fulltime now, after teaching college-level writing, literature and gender studies. Her new book has been optioned for a film, so perhaps we will get to watch her, or at least, the complex story she tells.

What is this book about?

Get ready to wrap your mind around this one. What if a brilliant computer programmer comes up with the perfect online dating algorithm, one so accurate that it would put the match-up company he works for out of business? And what if he gets fired after falling in love with a co-worker whose beloved grandma has just died? And what if he comes up with a program that uses their previous online communications and video chats to create what feels like genuine new conversations with Grandma? And what if this catches on and becomes a hot new phenomenon called RePose? And then what if something happens that…..OK, I have to stop here lest I give away a major spoiler.

Why you’ll like it:

This book combines a clever premise with fascinating ethical questions, charming characters, a heart-wrenching love story and easy-to-understand information about computer technology, no mean feat. It’s above all a love story, but one with twists and turns that make it far from the ordinary boy loses job, boy finds girl, girl loses Grandma, couple finds fame, fate finds couple story.

What others are saying:

Like the film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” Frankel’s clever and well-considered second novel extends the reach of technology just beyond our fingertips, where it feels possible. In this slightly magical world, her characters remain simple, which allows her to lavish attention on RePose and its implications. Can we assuage our grief or complete unfinished business by interacting with a computer simulation? What happens when that simulation learns and  changes, even though the original loved one stopped developing at death?” says the New York Times. says: “… Seattle-based author Laurie Frankel has written a love story featuring loveable characters and a premise so intriguing you hope someone will actually invent the computer program at the heart of this tale…. The strength of Frankel’s story is that she tackles big questions surrounding grief. Is there one right way to grieve? How important is it to say a final goodbye? If you could “preserve” your loved ones and continue to talk with them, could you move on?”

“Frankel tells a touching story of how this young couple deals with a new love in a world full of loss and sadness. Her first novel, The Atlas of Love, was a wonderful, heartfelt read, and while this book has a completely different story line, it retains that emotional core. Frankel is an author to watch,” says Library Journal.

The Seattle Times says: “…complications ensue, and then unimagined, poleaxing tragedy…. The book’s promotional copy hints at the nature of this tragedy; let it just be said that the events unleash enough tears to rival Seattle’s annual rainfall. And yet, “Goodbye for Now” is still hopeful and thoughtful and securely rooted in a belief in the essential goodness of which people are capable. It’s a book that will grip you, make you laugh and possibly cry, and make you think.”

“Frankel’s (The Atlas of Love, 2010) inviting second novel comes with a cyber plot twist that demands significant suspension of disbelief. For readers who can, their reward is a cute romance …. RePose is born, a controversial business that offers the bereaved the opportunity to stay in computer dialogue with their lost loved ones, provided they have left an electronic memory. The value of this comes home to roost when the plot takes a dark turn, leaving one half of the couple struggling, with RePose’s assistance, to live, love and let go. An excess of ethics overshadows the simple love story, but there’s no denying Frankel’s warmth, wit and ingenuity in this cleverly conceived charmer,” says Kirkus Reviews.

 “This entertaining novel, delivers a charming and bittersweet romance as well as a lump in the throat exploration of the nature of love, loss and life (both real and computer simulated). Maybe nothing was meant to last forever, but then again, sometimes love takes on a life of its own,” says BookReporter.

When is it available?

Say hello to “Goodbye For Now” at the Albany or Blue Hills branches of the Hartford Public Library or request it for pickup at the Downtown Library.

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