Review/Rant: Beautiful Goodbye by Chandin Whitten

Beautiful Goodbye - Chandin Whitten
”I woke up early the next morning, walking into the living room, I saw a few of the guys had stayed over. I recognized two of them, but there was a guy on the loveseat I had never seen. He was hot.”

Welcome to the city of Jenna Reylan. There’s a one hundred percent chance of both rain and sunshine, cold and warm weather. Don’t worry if you get lost while on your stay here; most people get lost at one point or another. The roads here aren’t made to make sense, so we suggest you just go with it and hope you’ll get to your destination in one piece.

All right, joke aside, Beautiful Goodbye is one of the worst NA-books I’ve read so far (which is saying a lot since I haven’t had any greater luck with them). It represents everything I dislike about the NA-genre. A sex-centered plot, one-dimensional characters, usage of a traumatic past as a plot device, a love-triangle, slutshaming, and downright terrible execution.

Let’s break down those parts.

Plot: It’s about Jenna Reyland who moves to college with her best friend Gage Tucker. Jenna, with her traumatic past, wants to have fun, and doesn’t dare to fall in love after her last relationship ended bad. Gage is the best friend who wants to protect her from ever getting hurt again. Throw in Larkin, a reformed bad-boy who falls in love with Jenna almost immediately. Throw in Jenna’s insecurities and fear of love. Add a love-triangle between Jenna going back and forth on the ”safe” Gage, and ”the one she loves” Larkin. Add sex. Okay, I’ll give that the plot had a twist in there, but it made no sense to me after it’s explained in the beginning how it shouldn’t be a possibility for Jenna after her past trauma (I’ll talk about this later under a spoiler tag). Well, besides that, the whole plot is about Jenna going back and froth between the guys.

Characters: Jenna is terrible. She goes back and forth on the male-interests. She’s a hypocrite, wanting Larkin to stay faithful to her even after she demands him to get out of her life. She slutshames every girl getting up close to either Larkin or Gage. I’ll probably describe her best with a couple of quotes.

”Last I had overheard, yes overheard like some six year old sneaking around listening in on her parents important conversations, Larkin was back to his old self-- women, alcohol, and drugs. I hoped he was at least being safe and taking care of himself. I knew how much football meant to him and I was hoping he didn't ruin it somehow.”

How is women, alcohol, and drugs not ruining his career? Seriously.

And on one of her best friends:

”If she wasn't so sweet, I might actually hate her for being absolutely drop dead beautiful.”

I don’t even know how to respond to this.

And then we also have her telling Larkin she can’t forgive him for hooking up with other girls when they had broken up, but it’s okay for her to get engaged to another man within the same amount of time? And that, my dear friends, is the wonderful Jenna Reylan.

And then, of course, we have the ”best friend” Gage Tucker. I don’t think it’s a surprise for anyone (except Jenna) that he is madly in love with Jenna and has been for a long time. Although, with him slipping out things like these, it’s hard to imagine how she ever missed it.

"When it comes to you, mental doesn't even begin to fucking describe me. You’re my girl. I love you and would do anything to protect you.”

You know what, I do understand why she never figured it out. Because between everyone telling each other how much they love each other, Gage also lets these kind of words slip past his lips.

"It’s your fucking pajamas babe and your ass is about to fall out. He might think you only want sex."
"Maybe I do." I smiled and shrugged.
"Hell if I let that happen. You are not going to be a football slut.”

Good thing he’s not my best friend.

"Fine. I'm done protecting you, I've done it long enough. Time for you to grow up and be a big girl. So what you got raped, not like you’re the only girl that's ever happened to. I'll be back tomorrow to get my shit, don't be here," Gage slurred.

Thank God he’s not my best friend. No amount of alcohol would make this okay to say. Ever.

Larkin on the other hand is just a walking stereotype. Bad boys reformed to the better. Him falling for Jenna for some reason never shown or told. I can’t say much more on him due to his lack of character development. He comes off as kind of creepy when he spills his heart out to Jenna after way too short time, explaining how she makes him want to be a better person. I kind of gave up on his character then.

Spoilers (Jenna’s past & Plot twist): 

The past, as in most NA-novels, Jenna was abused by her ex-boyfriend. During one particular encounter, she loses a baby she’s pregnant with. This then leads to her being unable to have children in the future. But, you know, plot twist. She does get pregnant with Larkin’s baby, and then doesn’t tell him since they’re broken up.

The worst part about all this is how even if Jenna has an abusive past, she’s all for rough sex, which they have a lot, yet not once (as I can recall) make any connection to her ex-boyfriend. Not only this, but she’s crude in her language and has lots of sex. (I don’t care if people have lots of sex, but in this case it just felt poorly described or handled.) It didn’t match up to her past and how she reacted to that. So really, it only messed with her character and didn’t make her any less one-dimensional.

The whole pregnancy thing then. For one thing, I kind of figured this one out the minute they had unprotected sex. I could buy her getting pregnant, but if it was so promptly needed for the story, why weren’t we shown more of the actual pregnancy leading to giving birth? There are such long jumps in time, skipping most medical issues that should’ve been brought up since the doctors said Jenna most likely would never bear children. The only issue comes up later, just before she gives birth. For someone such a high risk, this came off strange. And really, with the epilogue stating that she’s pregnant with twins? Yeah, sorry, I do not buy that. I won’t bother go into the part about Jenna not telling Larkin, because I’ll rant too long about it.

(show spoiler)

Sorry for long review, but I had to get it all out. I just couldn't deal with all inconsistency in this story, the characters, or the plot.