Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye's Carmella has an authentic teenager's voice. Shari Brady hits many themes that are common to the average teenager, including peer pressure, lying for convenience, and rebelling against parents.
The writing is at times both funny and sweet and tragic. When Carmella accidentally "catches" her father grieving her sister's loss, she says:
"His agony seeps through the bottom of the door and stabs me right in the heart."
Ms. Brady paints a familiar picture of the dichotomy between parental logic and teenage logic.
“Wait,” I say. “Can I have that one?”
Mom clutches Francesca’s shirt. “This old thing? Why would you want this?”
“Because it was her favorite.”
Mom passes me the shirt. “Okay.” She shakes her head.
Holding it up to my nose, I smell Francesca and for a tiny fraction of a second, I get her back.
This book took me back to my own awkward teenage years and those times when I felt like I didn't fit in, wanted a boy to like me but was afraid of what would happen if he did, and gained ten pounds in two weeks from "comfort" eating during a very stressful time. Shari Brady has managed to remember that time that some of us have chosen to forget, and I thank her for the bittersweet memories her book invoked.
There is one incident toward the end of the book that disturbed me. I felt that Carmella should have had harsher consequences (either from circumstance or her parents) for driving while intoxicated. Other than that, the book was stellar.