Hello Goodbye (Paperback)

By Emily Chenoweth

Harper Perennial, 9780062034601, 273pp.

Publication Date: June 14, 2011



"Tender. . . . Chenoweth'saffectionate style works marvelously, capturing the decadence of youth." --NewYork Times

Ina single week, one family leaves behind its past as a daughter awakens to a newfuture, in Emily Chenoweth's intimate and beautifully crafted debut novel oflove, loss, and learning to start over. Perfect for readers of Jennifer Haigh's The Condition, Susan Minot's Evening, and Kim Edwards' The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Hello Goodbye isat once an intimate coming-of-age tale and a solemn, elegiac exploration oflife's passage. Elle magazine calls Hello Goodbye "A tenderode to empathy. . . . Every page of this book serves as an affirmation of theterrible, wrenching beauty of life."

Praise For Hello Goodbye

“This bright, well-crafted novel, set at a family gathering to celebrate a mother whose death is imminent, steers competently away from the maudlin and makes what could be a heavy-handed exploration of mortality instead an entertaining, sometimes delicate story.”
-Lydia Millet

“Chenoweth avoids sentimentality, handling emotions with grace and consummate skill.”
-New York Journal of Books

“Tender....Chenoweth’s affectionate style works marvelously, capturing the decadence of youth.”
-New York Times on Hello Goodbye

“Chenoweth writes with a restraint that allows minor gestures to become elegantly weighted with meaning.”
-New Yorker on Hello Goodbye

-Boston Globe on Hello Goodbye

“Elegantly crafted.”
-Vanity Fair on Hello Goodbye

“A tender ode to empathy.... Every page of this book serves as an affirmation of the terrible, wrenching beauty of life.”
-Elle Magazine on Hello Goodbye

“Moving and assured.... Chenoweth’s smart, unsentimental and poignant takes on living and dying ring true, and her exploration of coming-of-age and coming to terms with mortality is divine.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Hello Goodbye

“An understated debut novel of great beauty and power.”
-Kirkus Reviews on Hello Goodbye

“[Chenoweth] writes gracefully and eloquently of loss and love, portraying both generations at their most self-absorbed and most vulnerable.”
-Library Journal on Hello Goodbye

“A beautiful novel ...Chenoweth’s eye for telling detail is as sure as her language is playful.”
-Alice Sebold, author of The Almost Moon and The Lovely Bones, on Hello Goodbye

Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  1. How would you describe Abby’s relationship with her mother and father? Do you feel she is closer to one parent than the other, or is she close to both in different ways?
  2. Elliott and Helen are celebrating their twentieth wedding anniversary. How would you characterize their marriage? Do you think they have been happy together?
  3. Out of the three members of the Hansen family, Elliott knows the most about Helen’s condition. Is it right for him to keep information about Helen’s condition from her? Does it make sense that Elliott and Helen keep information from Abby? What would you do if you were in a similar situation?
  4. When Elliott is talking to Dr. Buxbaum, he mentions “a happy death.” He says it’s a joke, but how do the Hansens try to give Helen “a happy death”? Do you think it is possible for a person to have “a happy death”?
  5. What are the different ways in which Elliott, Abby, and Helen herself cope with Helen’s diagnosis? Is there any right or wrong way to deal with someone’s illness?
  6. Why do you think Elliott gets rid of Pig the cat after Helen falls ill? Is it just because Pig has grown difficult to take care of, or is there something more behind this decision?
  7. What does Abby see in Alex? What does she see in Vic? Which boy do you think she should have ended up with, and why?
  8. Elliott is briefly attracted to Sylvia, the wife of his friend Neil. Did you find him sympathetic in this moment? What do you think he is really looking for in his interaction with Sylvia?
  9. What do you think Elliott and Abby’s lives will be like after Helen dies? How do you think Helen's sickness contributes to Abby’s growth as a young woman?
  10. Were you ever close to someone who was nearing the end of their life? How did you handle this?