Thursday, June 21, 2018

Goodbye, Sweet Girl by Kelly Sundberg

It started out well. He was kind, solicitous, emotional, affectionate. He seemed to love her like nobody else ever had. There were things about him that concerned her, like the way he let a friend behave around her, but nothing to indicate he would ever do her harm. She was pregnant and he was happy about it. So, they married.

And, then the abuse began. It began with something that sounds harmless enough. He threw a shoebox at her. A shoebox, empty, doesn't weigh much and can't do much damage, right? But, abuse escalates. The longer they stayed married, the worse the abuse became -- until she had to wear long sleeves to cover the bruises on her arms and couldn't explain the bruising on her face and the cut lip.

Goodbye, Sweet Girl is a memoir that begins with the moment Kelly Sundberg realized she had to get out of her abusive marriage to save herself and her son. It starts with a harrowing scene in which she managed to escape their apartment inside a college dormitory where they worked as the resident parents. Only the people who worked in the dorm were present, but it was the first time she'd thought only of saving herself long enough to give away the fact that she was being abused.

Sundberg returns to the beginning of her story to tell about how they met, the times when his behavior may have been a warning that she missed, how they married after she discovered she was pregnant and he became abusive shortly after their marriage, the abuse slowly escalating, the injuries becoming worse.

Recommended - Goodbye, Sweet Girl is a rough read but an important one because the author does a terrific job of showing how abuse can start out seeming like nothing at all. Throwing a shoebox? It sounds perfectly harmless, right? But, there's a pattern to abuse. It becomes more dangerous, harder to run away, more likely to end in death. That's exactly what happened to the author; it slowly escalated until the dorm incident (which got them thrown out of their apartment). Even as she was in the process of divorce, her father was skeptical and her employer tried to fire her. Why is it that women are punished for being abused? Fortunately, she stood up for herself and managed to keep from being fired while her husband remained employed.

Goodbye, Sweet Girl is very well written, incidentally. It's been a long time since I've read a memoir about domestic abuse but I don't recall the writing itself ever really standing out. Kelly Sundberg is an excellent writer.

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. It’s hard to read about this type of thing but, for me, worse when it’s a memoir. Sounds like a hard but good read.

    1. Yes, exactly, hard to read but well written and important. It helps you to understand how abuse escalates.

  2. I don't typically read memoirs but this sounds like an intriguing one.

    1. I didn't realize you don't read memoirs! I don't read them often, but I do throw one into the mix, now and then. It's kind of an important book because it gives you such a clear picture of how abuse escalates. That's something I've read about in the past but had forgotten. I thought she was unusually fortunate in that her husband was cooperative when she left. Often, leaving an abuser is the most dangerous thing you can do. That's when they tend to kill. He was pretty accepting and they share custody without any trouble. So, the ending is a happy one.


Thank you for visiting my blog! I use comment moderation because apparently my blog is a spam magnet. Don't worry. If you're not a robot, your comment will eventually show up and I will respond, with a few exceptions. If a comment smacks of advertising, contains a dubious link or is offensive, it will be deleted. I love to hear from real people! I'm a really chatty gal and I love your comments!