Book Review: If I Could Say Goodbye by Emma Cooper



I loved both of Emma Cooper’s previous books – so when I saw her third was being published in September 2020 I dived onto NetGalley to see if I could get an advance review copy – and I did!

Here’s the blurb:

“Jennifer Jones’ life began when her little sister, Kerry, was born. So when her sister dies in a tragic accident, nothing seems to make sense any more.

Despite the support of her husband, Ed, and their wonderful children, Jen can’t comprehend why she is still here, while bright, spirited Kerry is not.

When Jen starts to lose herself in her memories of her sister, she doesn’t realise that the closer she feels to Kerry, the further she gets from her family.

Jen was never able to say goodbye to her sister. But what if she could?

Would you risk everything if you had the chance to say goodbye?”


I am gutted – but I didn’t love this as much as Emma’s last two books.  Possibly because I totally bloody adored them and so had high hopes – but it just wasn’t quite there for me.

I have to say initially I found this a bit disturbing.  Jen’s grief feels really personal – and being part of that felt intrusive.  The person I felt most sorry for throughout the whole book was her poor husband Ed – he really was left having to deal with everything.

I know grief is a very individual thing – and I will literally be GUTTED when either of my sisters do pass away – but at the same time, Jen seemed to totally desert her husband and kids though her grief.  I am incredibly lucky that aside from the circle of life grandparents passing away, I have never had anyone close to me die – but I have seen a friend lose her child, and another friend her husband.  Clearly they were DEVASTATED by this – and still some days are worse than others – but at no point did they totally neglect their still living children and family members.  The whole storyline felt totally alien.  I guess it’s based upon an individual’s mental health which is completely personal to that human – but as a reader, I found it really hard to be empathetic with Jen at all when she still had her life to live, and her husband and kids to support her and who needed her support.

Jen’s relationship with her sister’s partner, Nessa, also felt odd to me.  Initially stilted and forced, to then over friendly and weird.  I felt sorry for Jen’s parents who effectively lost both daughters after the accident.  The fact Jen was adopted and Kerry wasn’t felt forced into the storyline.

Maybe if there had been some back story to the sisters relationship – as clearly they must have been much closer than regular sisters – it may have made more sense.  And I also felt I didn’t know Jen enough ‘pre accident’.  However the story very much implied her behaviour post accident was totally different to how she was pre accident.

As with Emma’s previous books it was well written, funny, prompted me to laugh out loud a number of times, and had lots of current themes etc.  But for me, it just didn’t quite hit the mark – but as I say, this could have been due to my unrealistic expectations. Possibly if I’d not had these high hopes it wouldn’t have felt like it wasn’t quite right.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my advance review copy.





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