I Came to Say Goodbye, Caroline Overington

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I Came to Say Goodbye is a moving tale about family, mental health and the fragility of life. It tackles difficult issues and tells a gripping story.

It was a crime that shocked the world.

The CCTV footage shows a young woman pushing through the hospital doors.

She walks into the nursery, picks up a baby and places her carefully in a shopping bag.

She walks out to the car park, towards an old Ford Corolla. For a moment, she holds the child gently against her breast and, with her eyes closed, she smells her.

Then she clips the baby into the car, gets in and drives off. This is where the footage ends.

What happens next will leave a mother devastated, and a little boy adrift in a world he will never understand.

Publisher:  Arrow, September 2013

Reviewer:  Natalie Moreland

Overington’s novel, I Came to Say Goodbye, comes in the form of a letter sent from Med Atley, an ageing, Australian man with three grown up children, as he addresses a judge. From the first page, the novel is captivating in its crafted script, never revealing the whole story to the reader but, instead, letting us pick apart the details from the clues he drops and leaving it until the final pages to provide us with the information we crave. Far from an indulgent, shock-hungry thriller, the delicate subject matters of mental illness, the care system and child abuse are layered within very real, familial circumstances, transferring the scandalous news headlines to our own front rooms. We despair, along with Med, at the choices made by those around him; he is a character who is easy to empathise with, showing that, with the best will in the world, bad things can still happen to good people.

Overington’s work as a journalist specialising in child abuse cases has made this novel rich in its detail and believable in its construction. She taps in brilliantly to the wider family in times of crisis where fingers of blame point wildly and chaos reigns, and the terror that parents must face when, despite the best of intentions, their child continues to make the wrong decisions. Although a highly emotional novel, based on horrendous real events, there is still warmth that cascades from Med’s character and a light at the end of the reading that will bring smiles along with the tears. Well worth a read!

Reviewer:  Kirsten Savage

The way this novel is written is fascinating. Nearly the whole book is written in first person, switching between a few different character view points. Not only that, but it is written not as a narrative but as a letter to a judge. This makes the reader feel very involved in the story as the characters speak to them about the events that took place an try to get their points of view across.

Another interesting thing about the way this book is written is the lack of adverbs and phrases designed to pull at the heart strings. Instead of trying too hard to make the reader bond with the characters and feel sympathetic for them, the author lets it happen naturally by telling the story as it is. This is a refreshing change from the style of some fiction in the same genre.

The story itself is brilliant. Tragic yet brilliant. It is full of plot twists and unexpected events. One moment, it appears to be about one thing and the next it turns out it’s actually about something completely different and even more interesting! It also tackles some realy difficult issues to do with family, mental health, race and political correctness. More so, it does so in a way that makes the reader really think about how they and other people view these sorts of things.

I Came to Say Goodbye is truly a work of magic. But be warned, you may need a tissue at some points.

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One Response to I Came to Say Goodbye, Caroline Overington

  1. Dear Natalie, Kirsten and the MojoMums,
    I wanted to write a short note to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read my book, and to offer a review.
    It means to the world to me, all the way over here in Bondi, to hear that my book has been discovered in Britain and that the story is getting through. Thank you so much. It has absolutely thrilled me.
    Kind regards,

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