You Never Said Goodbye by Luca Veste

So I was pretty pleased when within the first few pages, the love interest turns out to be an Arsenal fan! But then the Main Character asks her what she likes about them, and she responds, “Well, they used to be good[.]” I will shelve my entire lecture on the Mikel Arteta project that was well underway in 2020 when this book was set and say only: welp.

That was, perhaps, my first indicator that this book and I might not see eye to eye on a lot of things. The afterword actually helped me gain a greater perspective on what was going on with the author as he wrote this. His mother apparently walked out on him as a child, and the echoes of that loss permeate this novel, that he wrote as an exploration of that pain. And I must say, his generosity in writing for the disappeared mother, Laurie, in this book, is above and beyond. The empathy was greatly touching, as this book chronicles both her life and the life of the son she left behind, in multiple narratives that shift back and forth in time.

Laurie is a teenager when she falls in love with bad boy Anthony Sullivan. She knows that something truly dangerous lurks behind his eyes, but it’s only as her world narrows to serving his needs and interests alone, even as he grows wealthier and more powerful, that she realizes that she’s utterly trapped. Her best friend from childhood eventually helps her run away with the love of her life, and Laurie builds a quiet, happy existence with her new husband and, soon enough, two children. But a grave miscalculation brings them back to Anthony’s attention, and Anthony is not the kind of person to let things — or people — go.

Fast-forward twenty-five years and Sam is a damaged thirty-something trying to paper over the cracks in his psyche and finally settle down. Ever since his mother’s death in a car accident, his father has pushed him away, so he has mixed feelings about being summoned back to the town he grew up in by the news that his dad’s in the hospital. He’s shocked, however, to learn that his dad’s hospitalization isn’t due to illness or accident, but due to having been roughed up by intruders. Worse, his dad confesses to him that his mother is still alive, across the ocean in America where she came from.

This sets Sam on a dangerous search for the woman he’d thought dead for decades, as various forces work with and against him for this purpose. Some of the twists felt over the top, if not verging on caricature, while others were neatly elegant. But the thing I thought this book, or more specifically the main character, needed was therapy. The narrative would still have been propulsive had Sam been less of a throbbing ball of needy energy, and it certainly would have been easier to read.

It would also have been easier to read had it been localized better. Americans talking in British vernacular kept throwing me out of the narrative. I don’t blame the author at all — I mean, you don’t know what you don’t know — and honestly wonder if I received a UK version of the proof. I just think that aspect could have used a little more editorial oversight for the benefit of American audiences.

You Never Said Goodbye by Luca Veste was published December 6 2022 by Sourcebooks Landmark and is available from all good booksellers, including

Permanent link to this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.