So many treats are in store for the discerning reader of CT Liotta’s brilliant YA novel NO GOOD ABOUT GOODBYE. There’s a diverse array of multi-racial/cultural characters, organized criminals with complex political goals underway, keystone-cop humor/blunders often sparking from the evergreen enchantment of a push-pull romance between two young people, neither of whom have yet decided to identify as ‘gay.’
Despite significant strides in overall societal acceptance, it’s still quite difficult to admit that what one feels most naturally right about, romantically, lies significantly outside the boundaries of long-held norms. This is most especially true if you happen to be a Chinese-American teen from a family without legal papers who is dealing with a parent’s illness plus constant pressure to find the right (Chinese) girl within one’s own community (preferably, say, in Math class or at church). Or if you happen to be someone whose mother and older brother work for the State Department, which once led to events in Algiers that no fifteen-year-old boy should ever have to experience. Yet fear of bombs and bullets doesn’t hold a candle to how Ian Racalmuto suffers over the idea of anyone finding out about how he feels for Will Xiang, because it was not that long ago when a similar feeling wound up ruining the one other real friendship Ian’s had. Throughout the novel, the camaraderie between Ian and Will is palpable. With the actions of clandestine criminals plus intelligence operatives propelling James Bond-type plot twists, Ian attempts to deal with violent classmates who are bullying Will, while Will simultaneously winds up becoming indispensable towards keeping Ian — who is being hunted by determined, nefarious adults — alive. Filled with humor and heartbreak, touching moments alongside a steady stream of joshing insults, attempts at honesty plus an expanding repartee of inside jokes, the story builds with subtle yet recognizable intensity until certain other characters along with the book’s readers can’t help but root for these two boys to at last move beyond a friendship of playing video games in bed and wearing each other’s shoes into claiming something more. While certain plot elements, along with a number of secondary and tertiary characters who populate the novel remain somewhat anemic, on the whole, this is a rollicking good read.
Rich with often realistically crude boy lingo, NO GOOD ABOUT GOODBYE by CT Liotta is an utterly charming teenage LGBTQ falling-in-love adventure while simultaneously rocking an international crime storyline.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader