Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman- 6 out of 5 stars.

How can I award more stars than the system allows? Easy, it’s my blog and I’ll change the rules if I want to. 

This is a stunningly beautiful book. I am not one to mince words- ever. I was speechless at the end of this book. I started it yesterday and finished it tonight. I would have finished it yesterday, had I carried on reading it straight through, as I normally do. However, as intensely gorgeous and intense as it is, I had to take periodic breaks to watch episodes of Castle and wind down from my reading.

Francisco Goldman and his wife Aura fought being from different lives, through estrangement with their families(Goldman’s family life is not so great, an understatement, and Aura’s mother isn’t overly fond of him as her son-in-law), and toward finding their place together- in life- in struggling careers- to be together and build a life. Going into their second year of marriage, they are on their belated honeymoon when Aura breaks her neck while bodysurfing. She doesn’t make it, and her mother not only blames Francisco for her passing, but proceeds to have him investigated. It’s hard enough to grieve your wife, and on your honeymoon, no less, but add to it the fact that your in-laws, who weren’t fans of his to begin with, are accusing you of being responsible for her death, and you have a walloping tidalwave of emotion there, just waiting to crest and bury you in the ensuing memoir.

Francisco uses the myriad of emotions to not only grieve his wife, but to paint a picture of her as an individual, as a creative force waiting to be realized, as a daughter who tried hard to connect on every level with her mother after being abandoned by her father, as a wife learning to be a wife instead of a lover and lifetime partner, as someone who has a voice, despite the fact that it was silenced way too soon. Oh boy, does he succeed. If a man wrote a love letter to his wife and wanted it read to the world, this would be the one to read to the world. Such beautiful language is hard to find in books these days(Aura didn’t have glitter fangs and wasn’t a Mormon charlatan, like that bitch who wrote Twilight), but he has done it with this book.

Francisco’s coming to terms with Aura’s death(and believe me, reading it, you come to the conclusion that he still is not over it, and won’t be for a long time, such as the grief process has no time limit), coming to terms with the process of after-grieving(the packing up of clothes and personal effects, he shares with us parts of Aura’s journals and poetry, which show a talented young lady gone too soon), and trying to fight unfounded accusations of his role in her death, make for an absorbing, intense novel. You feel so horrible for his pain, which is painted with ever-loving care and loving brush strokes of Aura’s portrait throughout the entire book. The language in which he speaks of his now-deceased muse and partner, it crushes you while you’re reading it. As I say that, I realize it comes on a bit strong. But it’s true, the true beauty of this book is that she’s come back alive again, through his beautiful rememberances and his startlingly frank language about their life together and his life since her death. I have heard it referred to as a companion to Joan Didion’s book A Year of Magical Thinking. I would like to say I think it’s better. I loved that Joan Didion book, but her language and writing style is quite stark, and leaves a lot to be desired as far as breathing life back into her now deceased husband. Goldman has done that and gone further with it. I was in tears several times throughout this book, and believe me when I say, I’m a cold fish with books and not often will you find me crying with a book. This one- did me in. You have got to read it to experience it for yourself. 

I am really pissed at myself for not reading this book sooner. When I started at Babs’ two years ago, we had so many copies of this book in hardcover, and I kept picking it up, but I didn’t end up picking it up and keeping it in my visual mind’s eye bookshelf, so it faded. Until my lovely friend Laura put a copy of it in paperback into my bag at last month’s book swap, and voila- Sat night, feeling immortal restless with the 400 some books waiting for me to read them currently, this one got my attention. I am so thankful to Laura for giving me the book, because it’s probably going to be one of those books that stays with me the rest of my life. 

~ by generationgbooks on May 21, 2012.

One Response to “Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman- 6 out of 5 stars.”

  1. I am so glad you loved it!!!!!!!! I love reading your review… really pays homage to this wonderful book! There is nothing as great as a great book!

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