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Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite
Proper Goodbye by Connie Chappell is a compelling story of lost and found. “Every heart is asked at some point to leave something or someone behind while it yearns and aches for a different outcome.” Beebe Walker is disillusioned by the church. When the church board dismisses her, she finds herself saying goodbye to another congregation. Her many years of service as a minister seem fruitless. Beebe doesn’t do “goodbye” well. Inside she is haunted by a farewell that never came. Her mother abandoned Beebe when she was sixteen. Abigail Walker left suddenly without a word, forever lost to Beebe and her father. After leaving the church, Beebe hides inside her own grief by becoming a grief counselor. Six weeks later, Beebe is surprised by a visit from her ex-fiancé, Vincent Bostick. Vincent brings shocking news. Reluctantly, Beebe decides to return home and face the past, hoping that, this time, she will receive a “Proper Goodbye.”
Connie Chappell is a gifted storyteller, she writes with her heart and soul. Proper Goodbye is a story about grief. Grief is different for everyone, it is an individual journey. Understanding this concept, Chappell pens characters, young and old, all grieving, yet each one in a different place in their personal journey. Her story takes place in a small town, a place where everyone knows each other’s business, or at least they think they do. This causes conflict for the characters as they attempt to keep their pain hidden. The writing style is descriptive, full of symbolism and parallelism, revealing the many paradoxes of life.
Chappell notes from the very beginning that story’s theme is “reflecting on one’s dreams and memories.” She holds true to her theme throughout the text. Time and again her characters are invaded by memories brought on unexpectedly by a sight or a sound. Memories can be both fiends and friends, welcoming and alarming. Not rushing the ending, Chappell ends her story with finesse. Delicately tidying up mysteries, and wrapping up loose ends, the story concludes with an unforgettable line, leaving the reader with a “Proper Goodbye.”