Goodbye, Sweet Girl
Kelly Sundberg's beautifully written memoir, Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival, is about her almost decade-long marriage to her husband Caleb. But it is more than a story of domestic violence and systematic abuse. It's also about love, leaving, and moving from victim to victor. Sundberg holds a PhD in Creative Nonfiction and before publishing her memoir worked as an essayist. Her essay, "It Will Look Like a Sunset," was her first attempt at examining her marriage and telling the world about her abuse. This essay's literary success and Sundberg's desire to tell her story, fueled her memoir. Sundberg says she wrote the book as an attempt to try and answer the question "why did she stay?" Sundberg, in breathtaking honesty, examines her confusing love for Caleb in the face of his unrelenting physical and emotional attacks. She blames herself because Caleb blames her ("You made me hit you in the face.") and she believes him ("I know," I said. "I'm sorry.") This ongoing pattern is made even more confusing in comparison to the nurturing way he parents their son, Reed. Her memoir interweaves stories from her childhood throughout this tapestry to better understand herself, her marriage, and her patterns. At the close of the book, she writes: "I wanted to be safe. I didn't want the memories of his fists to be a ghost in my bones anymore. I wanted the memories to be just memories." These haunting images stay with you long after the book is closed. This stunning debut is worth your time and would make a great book group discussion. To read more from Sundberg, she has a blog which documents her years since leaving Caleb.