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Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roxane

    It is a hell of a thing to write about brutality and suffering with strength, grace, generosity and beauty. That’s precisely what Kelly Sundberg has done in her gripping memoir about marriage and domestic violence. Sundberg’s honesty is astonishing, how she laid so much of herself bare, how she did not demonize a man who deserves to be demonized. Instead, she offers a portrait of a broken man and a broken marriage and an abiding love, what it took to set herself free from it all. In shimmering, It is a hell of a thing to write about brutality and suffering with strength, grace, generosity and beauty. That’s precisely what Kelly Sundberg has done in her gripping memoir about marriage and domestic violence. Sundberg’s honesty is astonishing, how she laid so much of herself bare, how she did not demonize a man who deserves to be demonized. Instead, she offers a portrait of a broken man and a broken marriage and an abiding love, what it took to set herself free from it all. In shimmering, open hearted prose, she shows that it took everything. Also Caleb is trash. Fuck him.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jonetta

    Kelly Sundberg is a survivor of domestic violence. I’m starting here because it wasn’t always clear to the author that she was experiencing domestic abuse. Her story begins near the end and then reaches back into the past to provide context for her state of mind and how she came to be and stay in a violent relationship. Sundberg’s early life is much more complex than the simplistic lifestyle she describes. So much goes unsaid and broils underneath the surface within her family, network of friend Kelly Sundberg is a survivor of domestic violence. I’m starting here because it wasn’t always clear to the author that she was experiencing domestic abuse. Her story begins near the end and then reaches back into the past to provide context for her state of mind and how she came to be and stay in a violent relationship. Sundberg’s early life is much more complex than the simplistic lifestyle she describes. So much goes unsaid and broils underneath the surface within her family, network of friends, co-workers and, later, her in-laws. She’s yet another highly educated woman who you would think could not only recognize domestic abuse for what it was but also not tolerate it. But you must listen carefully as to how she eased into her situation and the complicity of so many others who were deaf to the subtleties of abuse. I much admire Sundberg for sharing her story and hope it was cathartic as she gains so little in return for being this open. She holds nothing back, including her frailties and vulnerabilities. While it was sometimes difficult to follow the timeline, I appreciated that she told the story as her life’s puzzle occurred to and came together for her. And, she nor the narrator doesn’t over-dramatize the abusive moments, taking more care to share what she was thinking and feeling in those moments. Hers is an important and relevant story as I don’t believe she was ever a victim. She never gave up on herself. Andi Arndt narrated the story perfectly. (I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Thomas

    I have taught Sundberg's "It Will Look Like a Sunset" in my composition classes ever since the essay came out. Every semester, the essay enables important discussions about abuse, agency, and craft. Every semester, I have students who feel empowered enough to share their story. Every semester, I have students who say that this essay changed their way of thinking. This is the power of Sundberg's work: it is both beautifully written while simultaneously holding an important conversation about viol I have taught Sundberg's "It Will Look Like a Sunset" in my composition classes ever since the essay came out. Every semester, the essay enables important discussions about abuse, agency, and craft. Every semester, I have students who feel empowered enough to share their story. Every semester, I have students who say that this essay changed their way of thinking. This is the power of Sundberg's work: it is both beautifully written while simultaneously holding an important conversation about violence, abuse, power, and gender. In other words, it is art, and it has the power to change lives. Her masterful memoir Goodbye, Sweet Girl is no different. This memoir about abuse and survival moved me from the first chapter (I cried in a doctor's waiting room) and never let up. I woke up early every morning so I could finish the advance copy (the last few chapters are especially moving) and found myself crying for and cheering for Sundberg. What a beautiful work!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    I'm sorry, but I just didn't enjoy this book. I really wanted to. I thought I would. But I didn't. The opening is compelling and pulled me right in. However, as I read, the details really got blurry. I found it very difficult to follow Sundberg as she detailed the various relationships that led her into a violent marriage. There was too much jumping around–– while discussing one boyfriend and the relationship, there would be a sudden jump to another. For me, this dulled the impact of the message I'm sorry, but I just didn't enjoy this book. I really wanted to. I thought I would. But I didn't. The opening is compelling and pulled me right in. However, as I read, the details really got blurry. I found it very difficult to follow Sundberg as she detailed the various relationships that led her into a violent marriage. There was too much jumping around–– while discussing one boyfriend and the relationship, there would be a sudden jump to another. For me, this dulled the impact of the message she set out to share. While I agree that there is a lot of honesty and courage in this story, there's too much blurring of those details to make the story hold together. While telling the reader that her mother was emotional distant, and at times calling her a bad mother, she also details all the times her mother came to help her or was there for her. I just didn't follow the logic. Admittedly, I gave up at 42% read. Not fair perhaps, but I RARELY give up on a movie or book. I always figure there is something to finish. This just didn't hook me and hold me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jane Hamilton

    Sometimes I want to let a book sit with me. I have to let it sink in deeply and observe how it feels in my tissues and bones before I write about it. First off, let me say that Kelly Sundberg is a courageous, talented, skilled and generous writer--it's why I've so admired her blog through the years. You are in good hands here, readers. Kelly Sundberg was married to a mercurial, abusive writer who was, at the beginning, ahead of her on the success scale. As that scale tipped, and envy got hold of Sometimes I want to let a book sit with me. I have to let it sink in deeply and observe how it feels in my tissues and bones before I write about it. First off, let me say that Kelly Sundberg is a courageous, talented, skilled and generous writer--it's why I've so admired her blog through the years. You are in good hands here, readers. Kelly Sundberg was married to a mercurial, abusive writer who was, at the beginning, ahead of her on the success scale. As that scale tipped, and envy got hold of him, Caleb deteriorated. He was determined to beat his own demons out on his wife's body. Kelly tried everything to please him, but nothing worked. Batterers choose to abuse, of course, and Caleb chose to abuse Kelly, over and over again. The couples' times of peaceable good relations were always followed by mounting tension, abuse, and a new cycle of remorse, apology and quiescence. Batterers aren't just monsters; most give years of intermittent rewards and bonding reinforcements, and those sweetnesses are so lovely that a person would stay put through almost anything to get to them again. The nice guy? He's the real guy. The other one is just some dude who came in off the street wearing the nice guy's face and body. Why wouldn't anyone want to believe that? We always ask ourselves, "Why does she stay?" but better we look at the womxn who left and ask, "How on earth did she manage to get out?" Let Kelly Sundberg tell you why in her well-written "Goodbye."

  6. 4 out of 5

    jo

    this is pretty phenomenal. i find it mostly phenomenal as a piece of self-writing, though it's also written beautifully. i admire trauma memoirs that embrace the necessary fragmentation of trauma. once you make a memoir of trauma linear, coherent, and cogent, it seems to me you lose something. trauma never presents itself in coherent narratives and it may be okay to superimpose coherence to a traumatic experience but imo something will get lost. so i really like the back and forth that sundberg d this is pretty phenomenal. i find it mostly phenomenal as a piece of self-writing, though it's also written beautifully. i admire trauma memoirs that embrace the necessary fragmentation of trauma. once you make a memoir of trauma linear, coherent, and cogent, it seems to me you lose something. trauma never presents itself in coherent narratives and it may be okay to superimpose coherence to a traumatic experience but imo something will get lost. so i really like the back and forth that sundberg does in this book, and admire how she does it. cuz the other thing is, fragmented thoughts don't look good on page unless you work your heart out to make them look good and readable. there's this fine line between the raw fragments of your traumatized mind and the coherent narrative you would like to present because it has to be readable. if you have ever spent time talking to a severely traumatized person trying to talk about their trauma, you know it's very hard to follow. so a book that honors the fragmentation but also makes it possible for the reader to follow is a book that hits that fine line and treads it all the way through. i don't think you can do this unless you have gotten a pretty good hold on your trauma, either through therapy or through talking it over with others or through serious self-work. sundberg did the therapy round quite a bit (couple, individual, the works), and i admire tremendously how she processed and owned her trauma enough to make it legible to us. this is backbreaking, soul-crushing work, so kudos to her for the determination to see it through. what is most startling in this memoir, in my opinion, is how seriously and determinedly sundberg questions herself. she goes back to her past, and, thank god, legitimizes her trauma in the description of sexual abuse she received as a child, but never places any serious burden on her parents, or at least she describes them as distant but also present and eager to help. this is generous, but it's hard not to read in the narrative some degree of childhood abandonment. and then sundberg goes on and places quite a bit of blame on herself for triggering her husband's violence and thus causing the failure of her marriage. she tries to find a way to locate where his violence comes from in his life, but she can't, so this remains a mystery for us too. but she takes quite a bit of responsibility for it all, and while that too seems generous (and maybe it is, i dunno, i can't judge), it is also heartbreaking.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    As most memoirs go, Goodbye Sweet Girl can be tough to read at times. Kelly Sundberg details her life, the beginning of her relationship, and their eventual descent into domestic abuse. The insight into why people choose to stay with their abusers and how they gather the courage to leave was raw and unfiltered. This was a real, honest take on domestic abuse. It was excellently written, yet I felt like the author was holding back a bit. It was methodical and somewhat clinical feeling, leaving me As most memoirs go, Goodbye Sweet Girl can be tough to read at times. Kelly Sundberg details her life, the beginning of her relationship, and their eventual descent into domestic abuse. The insight into why people choose to stay with their abusers and how they gather the courage to leave was raw and unfiltered. This was a real, honest take on domestic abuse. It was excellently written, yet I felt like the author was holding back a bit. It was methodical and somewhat clinical feeling, leaving me wanting more emotion. Reliving those events could not have been easy for her, kudos to the author for opening up and sharing her story with us. Doing so will help others that are stuck in the same situation and brings awareness to a subject most avoid.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Senteney

    I am not giving this book 5 stars because of the writing. The writing style is simple but surprisingly open and candid. I gave this book 5 stars because of the courage it takes to open ones whole life up to be viewed, criticized and picked part by the hungry for blood masses. To bare ones soul and admit to the shame of abuse and lay it out there before the world to step on like a rug after being walked on in life takes a special soul.It takes a survivor who wants to reach out and shake others ou I am not giving this book 5 stars because of the writing. The writing style is simple but surprisingly open and candid. I gave this book 5 stars because of the courage it takes to open ones whole life up to be viewed, criticized and picked part by the hungry for blood masses. To bare ones soul and admit to the shame of abuse and lay it out there before the world to step on like a rug after being walked on in life takes a special soul.It takes a survivor who wants to reach out and shake others out of there belittled state of mind and say: Wake Up, you are important and don't deserve to be a whipping girl to boost some cowards ego. I didn't realize when I picked it up that it was the author's own tale, it hit me somewhere in chapter 3, something clicked, Hey isn't that the author's name? I loved the first chapter, and after that it slowly pulled me into her life. I was proud of her for taking a stand. It shows both the good and the bad of her relationships with her husband and his family, and her own extended family. Remember looks are deceiving. We never know the truth behind closed doors.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Long

    This is a very honest and open account of being in an abusive marriage. It's also a story of hope, strength, and survival.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I wanted my compassion to be enough to spare him any more pain. I was a woman full of wants who wanted to love someone in a way that would heal us both. This is a really important book, and I so admire Kelly Sundberg. This isn't some book about a waif-like woman who apologizes for everything, the perfect, blameless victim. Sundberg fights back. Please don't read that and think Sundberg is not a victim. She is. It took her years to even consider that her relationship was anything but a little tumul I wanted my compassion to be enough to spare him any more pain. I was a woman full of wants who wanted to love someone in a way that would heal us both. This is a really important book, and I so admire Kelly Sundberg. This isn't some book about a waif-like woman who apologizes for everything, the perfect, blameless victim. Sundberg fights back. Please don't read that and think Sundberg is not a victim. She is. It took her years to even consider that her relationship was anything but a little tumultuous, and then years to leave her husband. What I mean to say is this: Sundberg explores the grey areas, something many authors do not dare to do. She is a victim, but she knows she's not blameless. That's what makes this book so interesting. Silence and screaming were the only things my family did well. This story has several layers. It claims to mostly dissect domestic violence, but it also covers dysfunctional family dynamics and the ghosts that hang over every person's shoulders. At first, I'll admit that I wasn't a huge fan of the constant switching. Everything is always changing, especially time and central focus. I found it jarring at times, but maybe that's the point. It's not going to be an easy read because it wasn't an easy life. I think my main problem with this is the prose. One of the first things I noticed was the awkward phrasing. There are parts that happen too quickly or too slowly, and there are some parts that could be SO powerful—but aren't as strong as they could be because of some sort of phrasing issue. Take this: I started carrying my stories beneath my rib cage in a physical manifestation that was somewhat like grief—a constant fluttering hummingbird's heart. Some may not see any issue with this, but for whatever reason, I did. It made me pause, and something about it felt... off. And the prose could be a little clumsy: He seemed kind. I said nothing about Caleb. I let the man walk me home. I let him into my apartment. I put on some music. He said, "You have good taste in music." Again, it's not anything major. It just seemed so odd to me. I don't know. Maybe I'm being too picky. Regardless of my possible—probable?—nitpicking, Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival is one of those books that deserves a place on your bookshelf. It's not perfect, but neither are we. **I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you to Harper Collins and Goodreads.**

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    Abuse Brutality Ignorance Anger Violence Scared Crying Pain Hurt Focus Truth No quitting Never give up Survival Strength Courage Bravery Breaking free Freedom Be prepared to be sucked into the vortex that incorporate all these words letters, ultimately feelings and emotions. Necessary truth work layered out in a very real everyday human stain upon earth. A writer with courage and bravery to lay down her life for the reader, a writer yet again seeking truth, realisation, safety, and freedom, from pen and words. The r Abuse Brutality Ignorance Anger Violence Scared Crying Pain Hurt Focus Truth No quitting Never give up Survival Strength Courage Bravery Breaking free Freedom Be prepared to be sucked into the vortex that incorporate all these words letters, ultimately feelings and emotions. Necessary truth work layered out in a very real everyday human stain upon earth. A writer with courage and bravery to lay down her life for the reader, a writer yet again seeking truth, realisation, safety, and freedom, from pen and words. The reader will have empathy learning of her being put in a place of being unwanted and lack of acceptance and love in those important early years as a child, she mentions, “I was bad,” but the terror that was to come in the form of a husband and loved one surpassed them, no more in sickness and health vows to uphold, lines crossed, she had to get out and never return for her child’s safety and herself. First rule of writing, write about what you know, and what she has to tell unsettling but empowering. The stuff of great writing, every clear, terrible, and empowering word of it. Excerpts @ https://more2read.com/review/goodbye-sweet-girl-by-kelly-sundberg/

  12. 4 out of 5

    Betty

    Sundberg's memoir about her abusive marriage is straight-forward, unflinching, and ultimately inspiring. Domestic violence takes many forms, but is always damaging and demoralizing to the person being abused. It takes a great deal of strength to endure such a life, and courage to escape it. I hope her book will help other women who are in abusive relationships find the courage to seek help and free themselves.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Renée Roehl

    1.5 stars. I *wish* this book had been better. It wasn't emotionally honest, it withheld emotion and didn't let the reader in. As a reader I felt nothing, but was told everything too many times in the superfluous details. I found the story redundant with excessive word fluff to pad the lack of genuine pain the author must have felt. She talks about secrets in her family, Caleb's family but doesn't seem to realize as the writer she kept secrets from us. None of the other characters besides the aut 1.5 stars. I *wish* this book had been better. It wasn't emotionally honest, it withheld emotion and didn't let the reader in. As a reader I felt nothing, but was told everything too many times in the superfluous details. I found the story redundant with excessive word fluff to pad the lack of genuine pain the author must have felt. She talks about secrets in her family, Caleb's family but doesn't seem to realize as the writer she kept secrets from us. None of the other characters besides the author and Caleb are fleshed out well enough to care about them. No actual suspense or tension was created, just impatience to get to the point. The protagonist kept saying over and over and over how she needed to leave and...I still didn't *feel* the difficulty, though I know it well in my own life. The author did a decent job explaining the back and forth one has of loving a personality-disordered person with a split who really does love you yet then blames the ills of their life on you. You know their heart is good...somewhere, but the price you pay to try to find it is costly. I did enjoy the nonlinear narrative but her transitions were often a bit too choppy. She also had two or three chapters I enjoyed that were list-like. One chapter was called: "What I didn't Write." In another chapter there was a section entitled: "An Incomplete List of What We Tried." "Playlist for a Broken Heart" was interesting, too. If you'd like to read a well written full energy book on domestic violence, I highly recommend Alice Anderson's Some Bright Morning, I'll Fly Away: A Memoir. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Neelam Babul

    It is commendable to write about brutality and suffering that one has endured in life at the hands of a loved one with such strength,honesty, generosity and admiration. In this gripping memoir, Kelly Sundberg talks of her about marriage and domestic violence that she experienced. I was appalled and horrified to read of her struggles, the fear she felt and the endless times she fought to save her failing marriage. Kelly Sundberg was married to an erratic and abusive man. Both are writers and whil It is commendable to write about brutality and suffering that one has endured in life at the hands of a loved one with such strength,honesty, generosity and admiration. In this gripping memoir, Kelly Sundberg talks of her about marriage and domestic violence that she experienced. I was appalled and horrified to read of her struggles, the fear she felt and the endless times she fought to save her failing marriage. Kelly Sundberg was married to an erratic and abusive man. Both are writers and while Kelly succeeds as a writer, Caleb is struggling to make it big as a writer. As Kelly welcomes success in her career, Caleb succumbs to envy and jealousy against his wife, which only fuels his anger and provides an excuse for unleashing his rage and frustration on her body. Kelly tried everything to please him, but nothing worked. Caleb chose to abuse Kelly, over and over again often blaming his behavior on Kelly. It was an endless cycle revolving around rage, abuse, and remorse, apology and quiescence. It is only when Kelly realizes that her son is grown and knows what is going on that she decides to stand up for herself and fight for her rights. I can never imagine where batterers get the ability to inflict such pain on their spouses whom they claim to love. And often they blame their behavior on the victims themselves. The courage with which Kelly transformed her life and moved away from a life of harassment and pain to one of safety is truly touching. One of the greatest memoirs I have read this year.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gloria

    The powerful subject of emotional and physical abuse is a story that far too many women have. Anyone is to be admired for asserting themselves in a dire situation. It is the choppy writing that is a bit problematic. Back and forth between cities in Idaho and two distant states. Back and forth between boyfriends and her husband. Back and forth between adulthood and childhood. In and out of school. It is just not cohesive. While understanding that the author would want to provide a context for when The powerful subject of emotional and physical abuse is a story that far too many women have. Anyone is to be admired for asserting themselves in a dire situation. It is the choppy writing that is a bit problematic. Back and forth between cities in Idaho and two distant states. Back and forth between boyfriends and her husband. Back and forth between adulthood and childhood. In and out of school. It is just not cohesive. While understanding that the author would want to provide a context for when and how the abuse began and why she stayed, she is very hard on family members without ever really presenting why they are at least somewhat at fault. Lots of implication without substance. There is little sense of momentum either in the realm of suspense, shock, empathy or compassion. Even her love for her little boy seems underdeveloped in her writing. He seems a bit too well adjusted after watching his mother being injured, and then he ends up spending long summers with good old dad? Would have liked to have heard more about her husband's mental illness and her own wonderful experience of achieving a doctorate in writing.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    Kelly Sundberg had no idea her husband had two sides. One a sweet, loving supportive father to their son Reed the other a vengeful violent explosive persona. Her childhood was riddled with some interesting characters and power plays in Salmon Idaho. Salmon was well known for mormon's , hippies, but not as well known was the darker side of beauty and brutality. Break out of the cage. Spread your wings and fly. Never settle. Stay safe. Her mother would often yell at her brother Glenn but it was much Kelly Sundberg had no idea her husband had two sides. One a sweet, loving supportive father to their son Reed the other a vengeful violent explosive persona. Her childhood was riddled with some interesting characters and power plays in Salmon Idaho. Salmon was well known for mormon's , hippies, but not as well known was the darker side of beauty and brutality. Break out of the cage. Spread your wings and fly. Never settle. Stay safe. Her mother would often yell at her brother Glenn but it was much different in terms of how she yelled at Kelly. "She's got that red headed temper." Was often how her family described Kelly. Dan was just a kid when they first met and paths crossed yet he took away something from her. Her peace, her innocence, her ability to be a safe young lady. Dan once showed her his private parts and then proceeded to ask her to do the same. Sadly, over the years she found herself in the company of all the wrong men. Alcoholics, Violent personas, men who promised to love but only offered hate. She had met Caleb at a local bar while playing in his band 'Last Man Standing'. She was 27 he was 35 yet he too offered much the same in terms of infidelity, womanizing, cheating, abuse, and soon she found herself divorced. Will she be able to break this cycle? Will she uncover her truth worth and value? Will she spread her wings and fly? A truly great read for 2018!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    This is an eloquently written memoir about one woman's experience with domestic violence. I'm trying to figure out how to relate this in a way that doesn't make it seem like I'm minimizing Sundberg's experiences, but -- one of the things that made this book powerful for me was that what Sundberg experienced is, in its own way, horrifically banal. This isn't a true crime book. It's not sensational. Evoking the patterns of a violent relationship itself, Sundberg gives us brief moments of terror an This is an eloquently written memoir about one woman's experience with domestic violence. I'm trying to figure out how to relate this in a way that doesn't make it seem like I'm minimizing Sundberg's experiences, but -- one of the things that made this book powerful for me was that what Sundberg experienced is, in its own way, horrifically banal. This isn't a true crime book. It's not sensational. Evoking the patterns of a violent relationship itself, Sundberg gives us brief moments of terror and violence, and then goes back to daily life, filling in the details of everything else that was going on at the time. She helps the reader understand how people who are abused can keep thinking that maybe things will get better. I am so impressed with this book, and with Sundberg's bravery and clarity. But what made me cheer with tears in my eyes was at the end, when she writes: "I am not stronger. I am not stronger because of what he did to me. But I am stronger. And I was strong before I met him. And I was strong during the abuse." She goes on to describe that strength. There is so often the narrative that people who are abused and don't leave are "weak," and god bless Sundberg for countering that unequivocally.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maggie61

    Domestic violence is a tricky thing. While he is hitting you or shoving or slapping, leaving seems to be the obvious answer. But it’s all of the inbetween that makes it confusing. When he’s apologetic and calm. Maybe I shouldn’t have made him mad. Maybe I shouldn’t have done what he doesn’t want me to do. Maybe if I just don’t make him mad, he won’t do it again. Maybe that was the last time. Except it rarely is the last time and it escalates. And they are too afraid to leave. What will he do whe Domestic violence is a tricky thing. While he is hitting you or shoving or slapping, leaving seems to be the obvious answer. But it’s all of the inbetween that makes it confusing. When he’s apologetic and calm. Maybe I shouldn’t have made him mad. Maybe I shouldn’t have done what he doesn’t want me to do. Maybe if I just don’t make him mad, he won’t do it again. Maybe that was the last time. Except it rarely is the last time and it escalates. And they are too afraid to leave. What will he do when he finds me? Kelly’s story is a very real account of one woman’s journey. What started out as a “normal” relationship turned dark and bit by bit Caleb got more violent. I loved the author’s way of telling a story. I didn’t love how it hopped around all over the place interrupting the flow of the story. Still a very good read from a courageous author who was able to break away. A 3 1/2 star for me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Christine (Queen of Books)

    Goodbye, Sweet Girl was amazing. "A story of domestic violence and survival," this wasn't always the easiest read, but I think it's a really important one. Sundberg talks about not only her abusive marriage in this finely crafted memoir, but also her childhood, their relationship prior to the abuse, and other aspects of her life. Her personal reflections on their relationship broke my heart, made me upset for her, and were so easy to relate to. I sped through the second half of this book because Goodbye, Sweet Girl was amazing. "A story of domestic violence and survival," this wasn't always the easiest read, but I think it's a really important one. Sundberg talks about not only her abusive marriage in this finely crafted memoir, but also her childhood, their relationship prior to the abuse, and other aspects of her life. Her personal reflections on their relationship broke my heart, made me upset for her, and were so easy to relate to. I sped through the second half of this book because I just needed to read it immediately. Highly recommend.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    GOODBYE, SWEET GIRL is a vivid, beautifully composed memoir about Kelly Sundberg’s tumultuous marriage to an abusive man. The narrative evokes feelings of remorse, uncertainty, and later, empowerment. It’s a compelling read, and although the disjointed timeline proves difficult to follow at times, I finished this book with a full heart.

  21. 4 out of 5

    David Ward

    Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival by Kelly Sundberg (Harper Collins 2018) (362.8292). This is a harrowing tale but an extremely well-written memoir of an abused woman who tried with all the tools at her disposal to save her dying marriage to an abusive spouse. Author Kelly Sundberg is a natural storyteller, and what she shares here is a recounting of her desperate attempts to re-ignite the love and compassion from the early years of her marriage. Unfortunately she Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival by Kelly Sundberg (Harper Collins 2018) (362.8292). This is a harrowing tale but an extremely well-written memoir of an abused woman who tried with all the tools at her disposal to save her dying marriage to an abusive spouse. Author Kelly Sundberg is a natural storyteller, and what she shares here is a recounting of her desperate attempts to re-ignite the love and compassion from the early years of her marriage. Unfortunately she was married to a rage-a-holic. Her spouse's anger and his lack of self awareness (e.g., “Now look what you made me do. You made me punch you in the head.”) created an untenable (not to mention unsafe) situation. Sadly, her desperate desire to recover the security and comfort of a loving marriage led her to tolerate abuse and violence way past the point of all reason. Why do people tolerate such behavior? Why would someone stay in such a marriage? Kelly Sundberg does a thorough job of explaining the thought processes that allowed an otherwise intelligent and rational person to tolerate such abusive behaviors by a significant other. My rating: 7/10, finished 6/25/19.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brooke (Brooke's Books and Brews)

    I find it very difficult to review memoirs. These are stories of peoples’ lives, their experiences and memories laid bare. That’s why I have thought for a while what to write about this book. Kelly Sundberg lays bare the story of her life, all of the ups and downs, the positives and the many negatives. The honesty actually really surprised me. And I absolutely applaud her for being brave enough to do this. Sundberg’s memoir has very difficult subject matter and most of the time it’s not even dis I find it very difficult to review memoirs. These are stories of peoples’ lives, their experiences and memories laid bare. That’s why I have thought for a while what to write about this book. Kelly Sundberg lays bare the story of her life, all of the ups and downs, the positives and the many negatives. The honesty actually really surprised me. And I absolutely applaud her for being brave enough to do this. Sundberg’s memoir has very difficult subject matter and most of the time it’s not even discussed at all: domestic violence. Sundberg’s husband was abusive and she stayed married to him for many years. She addresses the question that everyone has asked when they hear a woman stayed in an abusive marriage: why wouldn’t she just leave? This memoir describes the thoughts that went through Sundberg’s mind, all of the emotions she was confronted with, and how she eventually was able to get herself out of a dangerous marriage. Overall, this memoir kept me glued to the pages because Sundberg’s prose flows beautifully and smoothly even though the story is so heartbreaking. I would recommend this anyone who enjoys memoirs but I would warn readers of the sensitive subject matter. Read the synopsis before you decide to immerse yourself in this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shaindel

    Kelly Sundberg's powerful memoir of domestic violence and survival is a MUST-read. I first learned about Kelly's work through her essay, "It Will Look Like a Sunset" https://www.guernicamag.com/it-will-l... . The essay blew me away and led me to think about my own abusive marriage and my journey -- how I came to be there, and who I wanted to be afterwards. I'm lucky enough to have met Kelly "in real life" through the writing world, and I was so excited when this book came out, I pre-ordered it t Kelly Sundberg's powerful memoir of domestic violence and survival is a MUST-read. I first learned about Kelly's work through her essay, "It Will Look Like a Sunset" https://www.guernicamag.com/it-will-l... . The essay blew me away and led me to think about my own abusive marriage and my journey -- how I came to be there, and who I wanted to be afterwards. I'm lucky enough to have met Kelly "in real life" through the writing world, and I was so excited when this book came out, I pre-ordered it the first day it was available. I had to read it in little bits, a chapter here and a chapter there, because it was so real to me, and so close to my experience. We need these stories, and everyone needs to read them, not just women, not just survivors, EVERYONE. If you have a domestic violence shelter near you, you should buy them a copy of this book. I can guarantee that you'll be saving a life.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marika

    Author Sundberg writes chillingly about being married to a violent, yet brilliant man and how she came to be with him. What is unusual is that she did not come from a dysfunctional and/or abusive family, which is the backdrop to so many of these stories of abuse. She writes clearly about how she was able to love her husband, and even protect him, as he abused her. Beautifully, yet compactly written by a woman who had had enough. I read an advance copy and was not compensated.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    It is difficult to know what to say about this book, because this book is about things we don't talk about. It is about the little slips that happen when anger ratchets up and up behind closed doors. Hotel room doors. Apartment doors. Car doors. In the privacy of an intimate relationship. I found myself at times shocked at Sundberg's book. Not that it is gratuitous, or anything like that, but it was just was just so honest. . . so behind the doors. Not a LifeTime depiction of domestic violence wh It is difficult to know what to say about this book, because this book is about things we don't talk about. It is about the little slips that happen when anger ratchets up and up behind closed doors. Hotel room doors. Apartment doors. Car doors. In the privacy of an intimate relationship. I found myself at times shocked at Sundberg's book. Not that it is gratuitous, or anything like that, but it was just was just so honest. . . so behind the doors. Not a LifeTime depiction of domestic violence where the woman is straight up victim from the start, and the man is the villain. It explores the heart-map and head-space of Sundberg's confusing relationship. The development of which was told in ways that were beautiful, and heartwarming, and also, with hindsight, alarming. How could you think any of this was your fault? Sundberg will tell you how. Why wouldn't you just leave? Sundberg will tell you why. She will show you what it means to stay, to leave and return, and to stay gone. The format of the book is cyclical. It comes back to revisit scenes and moments in her life. There are things that bear repeating. It is an effective, haunting style. One of my favorite relationships in the book is between Sundberg and her mother. Fraught with disappointment, misunderstanding, and angry displays of love, it was depicted in such painful relief. This book is full of hope. The mending. The healing. The generosity that Sundberg showed to her less than perfect, real mother, in this book, gives me hope that my own daughter will someday see me for the real person that I am. Not just the sum of the ways in which I let her down. In fact, the book left me with a desire to know more about the mother's story. This book is so full of love, laughter, pain, and sadness. The writing is frank. Endearing. And vibrant. I listened to this on audible, and loved the reader. She was perfect. And the poetic repetition in the writing was made for reading aloud. It probably added to the experience that I started listening to this in car while winding through the West Virginian mountains.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mary Blye Kramer

    It’s tough to know what makes a book work or not work but I wasn’t at all emotionally involved with this story. Clearly it had to be the writing because who wouldn’t be caught up in a story about domestic violence? So I’ll take a stab at telling you why I think it didn’t work. I read once that a story usually starts many chapters into an initial draft and that seems to be a big problem here. We get the hook and then the author pretty much leaves the story. Toward the end she gives us details tha It’s tough to know what makes a book work or not work but I wasn’t at all emotionally involved with this story. Clearly it had to be the writing because who wouldn’t be caught up in a story about domestic violence? So I’ll take a stab at telling you why I think it didn’t work. I read once that a story usually starts many chapters into an initial draft and that seems to be a big problem here. We get the hook and then the author pretty much leaves the story. Toward the end she gives us details that should have been woven into the early part of the story. Those early omissions kept me emotionally distant from the story. We don’t even read these crucial details until page 216. It seemed to me her story started on page 191 or 177. She could have woven some of the more mundane stuff in after that but she didn’t and the book suffered because of it. All the substance of the story was crammed into the final pages and I read it with a complete lack of emotion. Not were there enough details about her difficulties with her parents to involve the reader. She tells us often how she feels but rarely shows us why she feels it. Too little of this or that happened and too much of “I felt this or that”. Domestic abuse is awful and I feel badly that this author had to go through it but the book wasn’t well written. For an accomplished writer, the writing itself was very ho hum.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I really appreciate Kelly Sundberg for having the courage to share her story. Maybe others who find themselves in this type of situation or in the beginning or one will find the strength to get out. I am fortunate that I am in a loving marriage. Although, my sister has not been as luckily. She has been in several abusive relationships. One of the relationships she was warned in the beginning. The other ones, the guys put on a good front before their true colors were revealed. I saw Kelly grow st I really appreciate Kelly Sundberg for having the courage to share her story. Maybe others who find themselves in this type of situation or in the beginning or one will find the strength to get out. I am fortunate that I am in a loving marriage. Although, my sister has not been as luckily. She has been in several abusive relationships. One of the relationships she was warned in the beginning. The other ones, the guys put on a good front before their true colors were revealed. I saw Kelly grow stronger the more I read. I am glad that she had others surrounding here to help support her. Kelly writes a real memoir type book. I felt for Kelly and experienced the emotions with her as she went from thinking she had found a great guy to emotional abuse to standing as a fighter. Readers who like reading nonfiction books or who can relate or know someone will want to check this book out. Kelly may be saying "Goodbye, sweet Girl" but I say "Hello, Sunshine".

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Thank you to the publisher (via Edelweiss) for an advance e-galley in exchange for an honest review. It's basically impossible to give a book under 5 stars when someone does what Kelly Sundberg does in this book- is able to write eloquently about the most brutal of experiences, is honest and vulnerable about what they experienced. Her abuse was horrific, and she writes openly about her path to realizing that the situation was untenable, about the support she received and the support she didn't. P Thank you to the publisher (via Edelweiss) for an advance e-galley in exchange for an honest review. It's basically impossible to give a book under 5 stars when someone does what Kelly Sundberg does in this book- is able to write eloquently about the most brutal of experiences, is honest and vulnerable about what they experienced. Her abuse was horrific, and she writes openly about her path to realizing that the situation was untenable, about the support she received and the support she didn't. Powerful, intense, and important.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    This book was very disturbing not only because of the abuse but also because of the author’s perception of the relationship. It seems that the author believed that outside of the abuse that there was a beautiful relationship/friendship between her and Caleb. There didn’t seem to be any evidence of that as she described their relationship. Caleb had so many disturbing behaviors and I had the sense that there was even more darkness not revealed because it was just unspeakable. Given these behavior This book was very disturbing not only because of the abuse but also because of the author’s perception of the relationship. It seems that the author believed that outside of the abuse that there was a beautiful relationship/friendship between her and Caleb. There didn’t seem to be any evidence of that as she described their relationship. Caleb had so many disturbing behaviors and I had the sense that there was even more darkness not revealed because it was just unspeakable. Given these behaviors I was astonished by the author’s delusion that Caleb was a great father and would never harm their child. It is stunning to me that she could allow her child to spend 6 weeks unchaperoned with Caleb every year. She seems to have an amazing ability to compartmentalize his behaviors rather than just see Caleb for who he actually is. I worry that her son will be exposed to much darkness and perhaps she should have not just given up at the divorce hearing and given Caleb everything he wanted.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pia

    All the feels. Omg. The only reason I didn’t give this 5 stars is that there were 2-3 sections that felt strangely out of place and more like listicles and took away from this otherwise powerful book. There were also a few places in the beginning of this memoir that overlapped a lot, borrowing from each other— in such a way that it felt like she had split certain sections apart. That part felt like it could have used a little more editing. But enough of my nitpicking; this is a gorgeous heartbre All the feels. Omg. The only reason I didn’t give this 5 stars is that there were 2-3 sections that felt strangely out of place and more like listicles and took away from this otherwise powerful book. There were also a few places in the beginning of this memoir that overlapped a lot, borrowing from each other— in such a way that it felt like she had split certain sections apart. That part felt like it could have used a little more editing. But enough of my nitpicking; this is a gorgeous heartbreaking memoir.

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