Eleven. Call a taxi. Have too much pride to phone your brother or your best friend. Leave in tears, broken, and make sure his next-door neighbor sees you. She is a stripper and she will comfort him. You will be safe knowing that he’s in the arms of the stripper and not his assistant. Do not go back to retrieve things you have forgotten, like your climbing shoes or laundry you left in the dryer. once you are gone, be gone for good. -From Rules For Saying Goodbye, Rule #11, page 126-
The fictional Katherine Taylor (not to be confused with the living, breathing Katherine Taylor) grows up the daughter of an orthopedic surgeon in Fresno. She learns her first lessons about life by eavesdropping on her mother’s phone conversations, and at the age of twelve is shipped off to Boston to attend a prestigious boarding school. The novel quickly unfolds from there as the reader follows Kate into young adulthood, meeting her whacky family and fascinating friends along the way as she moves to New York seeking herself in the bars (as both a writer who bartends, and a patron), and finding her share of unsuitable men.
The Rules for Saying Goodbye is a coming of age novel of sorts, packaged to appeal to women, but certainly not classic chick-lit (I had my husband laughing until tears ran down his face when I read him Chapter 15 of the novel out loud). Taylor writes brilliant dialogue and her characters are sharply observed if not quite a bit dysfunctional. Perhaps the funniest parts of this novel are those centered around Kate’s family. Taylor is skilled at striking a chord to which most people will relate:
In families, a lot of time can pass without anyone realizing any time has passed. What seems like last Christmas or the Christmas before may have actually been a Christmas from twelve years ago. Hurt feelings and forgettable spats can go on for decades in families. -From Rules for Saying Goodbye, page 62-
Or following the protagonist’s grandmother’s funeral:
Afterwards, at lunch in the church reception hall, my father and two priests had to sit between my mother and her feuding siblings. These were feuds that had taken fifty years to develop, based on the sort of animosity that must begin in childhood. An agglomeration of unresolved arguments and slights: the time Uncle Dick slapped my mother back and forth across the face when she had refused to leave a wedding with him forty years ago, the time he bloodied her lip for dating a Japanese boy, the dozens of times Aunt Lou neglected to send invitations to Auntie Petra and Grandma for birthday or Christmas parties, the time Uncle Dick tred to discipline my brother Richard, his namesake, by pinning him against the garage with the car. Also, my mother was still angry with Auntie Petra for feeding her lard when she was eight. -From Rules for Saying Goodbye, page 129-130-
Rules for Saying Goodbye is funny, heartwarming, and perceptive. Sometimes there are books you hate to see end – this novel turned out to be one of those for me. This was Katherine Taylor’s first novel. I’m looking forward to more from her.
To read a wonderful interview of this author, visit The Emerging Writer’s Network.