Book Review: Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman

6 Apr

Genre: Literary fiction

Publisher: Grove/Atlantic (Grove Press)

Pub date: 5 April 2011

Source:Publisher via NetGalley

While I don’t necessarily look for happy endings in every book I read, I do hope for some happiness. But Say Her Name, from the beginning is a sad tale – one of loss and mourning.

Synopsis (from GoodReads)

Part-memoir and part fiction, Francisco Goldman tells us the story of coming to terms with the sudden death of his young, talented wife.

In 2005, celebrated novelist Francisco Goldman married a beautiful young writer named Aura Estrada in a romantic Mexican hacienda. The month before their second anniversary, during a long-awaited holiday, Aura broke her neck while body surfing. Francisco, blamed for Aura’s death by her family and blaming himself, wanted to die, too. Instead, he wrote Say Her Name, a novel chronicling his great love and unspeakable loss, tracking the stages of grief when pure love gives way to bottomless pain.


This is definitely not an easy book to read and not just because of the heavy subject. Initially I had trouble getting into the story –  the abundance of Spanish sprinkled all over slowed my reading and the switching between the many times in the story had me confused.

But once I stopped trying to figure out reality vs. imagination and past vs. present, it all flowed more beautifully and sadly and I was swept along.

There is a stream of consciousness style through it all and I was left feeling bereft, appreciative of the time I’ve had with the people I love and praying to the powers that I believe in to keep everyone safe.

The author’s attempt at dealing with the loss took him to some deep dark places filled with confusion and bitterness… and he takes the readers along with him.

The characters are all very well-drawn – from Aura’s hurt mother who blames Frank for what is really a freak accident to her absent father to her step father and step sister.

I might be in the small minority here, but I couldn’t like Aura. While I could on some level completely understand the magic she represented, and her issues, often she comes across as selfish, self-involved and spoilt!

This is not a simple story but more a collections of moments – ones that Frank remembers and the ones that he collects from her friends and recalls – all in a desperate attempt to hold on to her. His grief is intensely detailed, his obsession is palpable. And he brings his beloved wife back to life in the pages of the book, artfully mixing fact, fiction, myth and reality.

Recommended. Cliched as it sounds, it is a book that makes you appreciate the big and little things in your life and live each day with joy and love.

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

Do you agree with my review, or do you think I’m way off? Just want to say hi? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

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One Response to “Book Review: Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman”


  1. Book Review: Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney « Stargazerpuj's Book Blog - April 11, 2011

    […] happened to read this soon after I finished Say Her Name and was initially not happy about reading two books with the same theme back to back. But the […]

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