Between Goodnight and Goodbye: A Tale of Two Titles

Article Contributed by Nicole Lise Feingold | Published on Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Grateful Web gave me the opportunity to write. My first review was on the documentary film, Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band in late February of 2020. In March, the pandemic hit and I, along with the rest of the world, was dumbstruck. Completely lost, I found solace in churning out music review after review. During my tenure, I have also shared my perspective on the National Geographic’s premier of “Genius: Aretha” and a few books. Music and reading provide me with immense joy. I imagine there are lot of other Grateful Web fans who love spending time with a good book too. Perhaps, like me, you have your favorite tunes playing in the background while devouring your latest read. Although not music or Dead specific Grateful Web has graciously allowed me to submit book reviews of my latest reads. Let’s see how this goes.

Do you remember the classic children’s book, Goodnight Moon written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd? With poetic, sweet lines like, “And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush,” Brown grabs the reader or listener in every page. It is understandable why 77 years after its publication Goodnight Moon would continue to garner attention and such love. After reading Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong I couldn’t stop thinking about Goodnight Moon. Yes, these books are drastically different, and I realize ‘Goodnight’ is not ‘Goodbye,’ but there are correlations between these two reads. Hear me out.

Goodnight Moon written by Margaret Wise Brow - illustrated by Clement Hurd

Goodbye, Vitamin tries desperately to be whimsical, quirky and even poignant but sadly misses the mark unlike its predecessor with a slightly different title. I found Khong’s style of both narrative and diary entries disjointed, lacking cohesion. A premise that should have been interesting, a young woman managing the breakup from her fiancé and moving back in with her parents to care for her father who has an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is sadly boring. After working at the Alzheimer’s Association for 10+ years, I know this story could have had great dimension. Also, I really struggled to connect with the narrator, her family and the peripheral characters as there is absolutely no depth or substance to them. Finally, Khong tries to be funny sharing mundane observances, but the prose falls flat. “Sometimes I like a hangover because it’s something to do. This morning’s is a rodent: pesky but manageable.” It is blah, right? This is why I kept thinking of Goodnight Moon. That story has unforgettable lines. “Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.” Or “Goodnight nobody. Goodnight mush.” The lines are enchanting, somewhat ridiculous but also spark the imagination.

Yet, one of Khong’s entries did stand out. “Today we went over to your mother’s friend’s house for dinner. We’d asked you to be polite, so you said, “No more, please, it’s horrible thank you.” Khong, I laughed out loud. You deserve kudos for those sentences and even though I have given Goodbye, Vitamin a terrible review I honor anyone who creates. It is hard to put yourself out into the world. It is even harder to get published. Although I ponder why this novel has received so many accolades and during and after the read I felt disappointed, I still recognize as well as commend your work. Okay, on to my next read and review…