Softly Say Goodbye (KC Sprayberry)

3 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This novel has a very moving story but occasionally gets a little too didactic for comfort. The story follows a female protagonist, Erin, who is navigating her way through senior year of high school while facing the issue of teenage drinking among her peers, which often results in tragedy. Teenage drinking is the main theme of the book, and Sprayberry makes sure the reader does not forget how damaging it can be to the lives of young people. I haven’t been in high school of over a decade, but the amount of focus and energy given to alcohol at the school of the protagonist seems a bit overblown. However, Sprayberry’s points are well made, and if a little exaggeration is present, it does not undermine the story enough to destroy the enjoyment of the book.

Greater Detail:
The lovely protagonist, Erin, is a likable, responsible teenager just trying to graduate high school and move past the epidemic of teenage drunkenness at her school. One might call the “Kewl Krew,” a clique at the school whose members carry around water bottles of liquor and drink during class, the major antagonist of the story. The Kewl Krew bullies the non-drinkers and has the teachers and the administrators too scared to crack down on their drinking during classes. It seems a little far fetched to me to have teachers scared of high schoolers who are constantly drunk, but as I said, it’s been awhile since I was in high school.

While dealing with the pressures of the Kewl Krew, Erin is also trying to finish many projects required for graduation with the help and guidance of her family and her close-knit group of friendsl. The arc of the plot is driving to the final goal of graduation, and the stress and worries of the protagonist are very well communicated to the reader. While the underage drinking problems are emphasized relentlessly throughout the book, making me roll my eyes at times, the quality of the writing and the ability of the author to evoke emotions makes up for many of the problems. There are several tragic events in Erin’s life throughout the book that drive her to work harder and become a better person. I will admit to shedding a few tears at one point in the book, and it takes some work to get me involved enough to get emotional.

Overall, this book may be a little didactic and juvenile for adult readers, but perhaps the target audience of high school age young adults would be able to relate more to the situations and peer pressure. The author has a connection to the age group through her teenaged son, but there are times that the writing seems a little out of touch with the trends.

Comparisons to Other Authors:
The focus and subject matter are similar to books by Judy Blume, which tend to focus on issues that teens deal with as part of growing up. The book is not a literary masterpiece, but is a moderately interesting way to pass the time.

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