It's a brave thing to tell the story of an abusive marriage. It's an even braver thing to tell the story of loving the man who harms you, of protecting the man who beats you, of the moments of a marriage that were loving and sweet along with the times anger and rage crossed the line into violence. Kelly Sundberg's memoir is an essential read, not only for survivors of abuse seeking a book to help them heal, but also for those who try to understand why people stay with abusive partners. Recommended By Mo D., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"In her stunning memoir, Kelly Sundberg examines the heart-breaking bonds of love, detailing her near decade-long marriage's slide into horrific abuse. Sundberg shares her own confusions, fears and empathy for her violent husband, even as she comes to realize he will never change. This is an immensely courageous story that will break your heart, leave you in tears, and, finally, offer hope and redemption. Brava, Kelly Sundberg."--Rene Denfeld, author of The Child Finder
"A fierce, frightening, soulful reckoning--Goodbye, Sweet Girl is an expertly rendered memoir that investigates why we stay in relationships that hurt us, and how we survive when we leave them. Kelly Sundberg is a force. She has written the rare book that has the power to change lives."--Christa Parravani, author of Her: A Memoir
In this brave and beautiful memoir, written with the raw honesty and devastating openness of The Glass Castle and The Liar's Club, a woman chronicles how her marriage devolved from a love story into a shocking tale of abuse--examining the tenderness and violence entwined in the relationship, why she endured years of physical and emotional pain, and how she eventually broke free.
"You made me hit you in the face," he said mournfully. "Now everyone is going to know." "I know," I said. "I'm sorry."
Kelly Sundberg's husband, Caleb, was a funny, warm, supportive man and a wonderful father to their little boy Reed. He was also vengeful and violent. But Sundberg did not know that when she fell in love, and for years told herself he would get better. It took a decade for her to ultimately accept that the partnership she desired could not work with such a broken man. In her remarkable book, she offers an intimate record of the joys and terrors that accompanied her long, difficult awakening, and presents a haunting, heartbreaking glimpse into why women remain too long in dangerous relationships.
To understand herself and her violent marriage, Sundberg looks to her childhood in Salmon, a small, isolated mountain community known as the most redneck town in Idaho. Like her marriage, Salmon is a place of deep contradictions, where Mormon ranchers and hippie back-to-landers live side-by-side; a place of magical beauty riven by secret brutality; a place that takes pride in its individualism and rugged self-sufficiency, yet is beholden to church and communal standards at all costs.
Mesmerizing and poetic, Goodbye, Sweet Girl is a harrowing, cautionary, and ultimately redemptive tale that brilliantly illuminates one woman's transformation as she gradually rejects the painful reality of her violent life at the hands of the man who is supposed to cherish her, begins to accept responsibility for herself, and learns to believe that she deserves better.
“In this can’t-take-your-eyes-off-the-page memoir, hard-bitten Idaho is a savage landscape “full of sawed-off mountains,” nuclear waste, and wild animals just outside your door. But for Sundberg, the real danger shares her bed. How does a violent partner erode the terrain of your heart? And are you ever too old to run away from home?” O Magazine, Top Books for Summer
“Goodbye, Sweet Girl is heartbreaking, breathtaking in its scope, and urgently truthful in its harrowing and tender examination of when empathy fails—and when it wins.” The Los Angeles Review
“Goodbye, Sweet Girl, bursting with such heartfelt, beautifully crafted scenes, is a gift for those who’ve experienced the pain of growing up and out of abusive relationships and a guide for those who seek insight and understanding.” New York Journal of Books
About the Author
Kelly Sundberg’s essays have appeared in Guernica, Gulf Coast, The Rumpus, Denver Quarterly, Slice, and others. Her essay “It Will Look Like a Sunset” was selected for inclusion in The Best American Essays 2015, and other essays have been listed as notables in the same series. She has a PhD in creative nonfiction from Ohio University and has been the recipient of fellowships or grants from Vermont Studio Center, A Room of Her Own Foundation, Dickinson House, and the National Endowment for the Arts.