Sometimes life is like a box of Lucky Charms… or at least, like a Ziplock bag of Lucky Charms marshmallows.
This fall, Candace Ganger takes us on a journey of grief, of hope, of friendship, and of letting go, in Six Goodbyes We Never Said. Six Goodbyes follows two teens who have lost their parents: Naima Rodriguez, whose Marine father won’t be returning from his last tour; and Dew Brickman, who is still grieving the death of his parents.
From the publisher:
Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.
Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.
Candace Ganger’s Six Goodbyes We Never Said is no love story. If you ask Naima, it’s not even a like story. But it is a story about love and fear and how sometimes you need a little help to be brave enough to say goodbye.
Ms. Ganger shares a little more about Naima and Dew in her Author’s Note:
I think it should be known that, while Six Goodbyes is a work of fiction, I share the many characteristics, fears, and pains, in both the delicacy of Dew, and the confused ferocity in Naima. Please let this brief note serve as a trigger warning in regards to mental illness; self-care is of the utmost importance. And while I hope Six Goodbyes provides insight for those who don’t empathize, or comfort for those that do, I also understand everyone reacts differently.
Dew’s social anxiety is something I, and many others, struggle with. We carry on with our days and pretend it’s not as hard as it feels inside. Others can’t quite see how much it hurts but we so wish they could. Naima is the most visceral interpretation of all of my diagnosed disorders combined. Her obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and related tics, her intrusive thoughts, her utterly devastating and isolating depression, her generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which makes her so closed off from the world, and her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from losing the biggest portion of identity—those are all pieces of me. Very big pieces. They don’t define me, but it would be misleading if I didn’t admit they sometimes, mostly do. I’m imperfectly complicated like Naima. And though I’ve written extensively on both my mental illnesses and living biracial, between two worlds—never enough of one or the other; always only half of something and never whole or satiated—I often still feel misunderstood. Hopefully Dew and Naima’s stories will provide a little insight as to what it’s like inside their heads, and inside mine.
Both Dew and Naima want to hold on to the roots that have grounded them in their familiar, safe spaces. But once their metaphorical trees are cut, and all the leaves shielding them from their pains have fallen and faded away, not even photosynthesis could bring them back to life. Those roots, Naima and Dew feel, will die off, and everything they had in their lives before will, too. There are many of you out there who feel the exact same way, but I assure you, Dew and Naima will find their way—they will grow new roots that flourish—and you, my darlings, will, too.
Thank you for reading, and may Six Goodbyes serve as permission to speak your truths—the good and the painful.
Here’s to another six airplanes for you to wish upon.
Many thanks to the publisher for sharing Six Goodbyes We Never Said with me. Six Goodbyes is available for purchase tomorrow.