Summer Staff Reads: A Beginner’s Guide to Goodbye by Melanie Mosher

What better way to start off our Summer Staff Reads than by reading a book set on the North Shore of Nova Scotia at Tidnish Beach??? A Beginner’s Guide to Goodbye by Melanie Mosher, nominated for the 2022 Hackmatack Award in the English fiction category, is the perfect book for a Beach Day!

Every summer, Laney’s family visits their cottage on Tidnish Beach. Summertime on Nova Scotia’s north shore is slow and sweet: there are long days in the water until fingers turn pruney, bottomless glasses of cherry Kool-Aid, and bonfires with the other families summering along the shore. But this year the baking heat and bright red sand provide cold comfort. This year Laney’s little sister, Jenny, is gone.

Ten-year-old Laney grapples with the loss. She carries immense, secret guilt that she can only work out by writing letters to her sister. Laney’s mother won’t even say Jenny’s name, so writing quickly becomes Laney’s coping mechanism, to the detriment of her social skills. She avoids the other kids until she makes a new friend—one who doesn’t look at her with pity.

It’s a tough lesson for a preteen, but Laney must learn to acknowledge her grief in order to overcome it. When a situation arises and Laney needs to help her new friend, she finally understands that even though she will miss Jenny forever, she can find happiness again. A tender meditation on life and loss through the lens of a childhood summer, A Beginner’s Guide to Goodbye will fill readers with warmth and spark important conversations.

“”There’s candy,” said Laney excitedly. “Every kind you can imagine behind glass, sorted into separate compartments. It’s like an old-fashioned store, a hundred years old.””

Pg 138-39 A Beginner’s Guide To Goodbye by Melanie Mosher.

Review: The Middle-grade novel, A Beginners Guide To Goodbye by Melanie Mosher, is not only a great summer read, but it may even be a helpful “guide” for Middle-Graders who are dealing with loss, grief, and even bullying, or fears.
Reading this novel brought back fun memories of summer vacations in Nova Scotia; including walking barefoot in the sand, collecting sea glass, jumping in the waves, and eating Hodge Podge with vegetables fresh from the garden. Sue Slade Goodreads June 2021

“I guess that’s what bravery is, getting through the moments of fear to the other side.”

― page 124- A Beginners Guide to Goodbye by Melanie Mosher
Tidnish Beach

Review: A Beginners Guide To Goodbye is a realistic novel that shows how hard it can be to grieve. I don’t think I have ever felt more touched by a young character like I have been by Laney. She is ten years old and has this insane amount of guilt on her shoulders. She doesn’t let the grief and guilt get to her and she ends up helping others around her. Melanie Mosher’s writing makes you feel for Laney and walks you through exactly how Laney is feeling and how she over comes her grief and her fears. It’s a sad but heartwarming story as Laney goes through the loss of her little sister and eventually becomes happy again. Kiara Goodreads July 2022

Review: A truly heartfelt little story! This book gracefully handles an array of hard topics, with healthy and productive examples of handling grief throughout. I enjoyed watching the characters grow and learn as the story progressed. An excellent book showcasing the many types of goodbyes we’ll face in life. Erin O’Neill Goodreads June 2022

Hodge Podge

Review: Beginner’s Guide to Goodbye by Melanie Mosher- is a well-written and enjoyable story about a young girl, Laney, trying to cope with the loss of her younger sister Jenny. In a tragic accident, Jenny is taken from Laney and her family and Laney feels like this is her fault, that she could have somehow prevented the accident. Laney’s not alone in her grief, her parents, older brother, and sister, John, and Kate are also trying to cope, each in their own way. But no one is talking about Jenny and remembering the good things and Laney wants that to change. She just doesn’t know how to go about it. The family spends their summers at their cottage in Nova Scotia. For Laney, her sister, and brother this is the highlight of their summer. But this will be the first summer without their sister Jenny and everyone seems sad and angry. As the summer progresses Laney finds comfort and friendship in an unlikely person. Miss Lucy, an older lady who lives down the beach. Laney discovers she too has lost someone and Laney and Miss Lucy begin a journey of healing and finding the courage to overcome their fears. With summer coming to an end with newfound determination Laney confronts her mom and encourages her to talk about Jenny. A wonderful story about the power of friendship and how finding the courage to share our stories about loved ones who may no longer be with us is the first step in healing and keeping their memories alive. Amy McIsaac Goodreads July 2022

I Read Canadian 2020- Carrie Muller, Melanie Mosher & Jackie Halsey

Melanie Mosher A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO GOODBYE. Nimbus Publishing and Vagrant Press has reminded me again of how wonderful it is as an adult to read a young adult work of fiction. I received my copy two days ago and finished it in one early morning sitting. Thank you Kate Watson for sending it along at my request. I was so enjoying author Melanie Mosher’s online book club @Nimbus and Vagrant Book Club videos, I wanted to read it right away.
I have sat with this review for more than 24 hours now, wanting to give it the best review I can. Each time I started my review, my emotions would take me travelling down memory lane and I would lose sight of what I wanted to say about this book. Melanie Mosher has dealt with the difficult subject of death in a way that can easily be read by young and old alike. She has told us that this book was a long time in the making and went through several versions, before and since coming to Nimbus for publication. I think that time and talent and the heart that has gone into the writing of this book is evident in all the tender ways that the subject matter has been dealt with. There is rich conversation starting material here. Melanie Mosher manages to show her reader a safe path to coping with grief.She gives a voice to grief through her story’s main character, Laney who is dealing with the death of a younger sister. Laney is brave and her heart is true and she spends a summer helping herself, her family and a very special friend through to the other side of grief. I loved little Laney. She was such a believable character. She admirably assessed her own faults and worked hard to overcome and change them. Through Laney the story weaves a beautiful message of hope even in the time of loss. She was a “real” little girl in my mind. Melanie Mosher manages to show her reader that guilt, remorse, sadness and pain are all parts of the grieving process and will take their time to be worked through. Within the pages of this book a young reader can easily gain strength in the knowledge that through talking and remembering with others, the pain of loss can be endured and as Sheree Fitch Gilles Plante mother told her – “you won’t always be this sad.” Laney is an empathetic character. It was heartrending and heartwarming to be allowed to share her journey through her grieving process.
Please remember this title if you ever have the opportunity to recommend a book to help a young person who is experiencing a death

I think this would make an excellent book for a young adult book club and would make a welcome addition to any classroom library. Atlantic Book Reviews Lana Shupe Goodreads June 2020