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Goodnight, Beautiful Paperback – September 28, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Nova Kumalisi and Mal Wacken have been best friends since childhood (and secretly half in love with each other). Nova would lay down her life for Mal, but then Mal comes to her with a proposition that makes her nervous. Mal’s wife, Stephanie, is unable to have children, and they want Nova to be the surrogate mother. Nova agrees, but Stephanie, already somewhat suspicious, finds a text message from Mal to Nova that suggests they were more than friends and forces him to cut all ties to his best friend and his son. Eight years later, Nova and Mal are still not speaking to each other, and Nova is raising their son, Leo, by herself. But when Leo becomes critically ill, Nova realizes that despite their estrangement, Mal needs to know his son before it’s too late. Is there too much bitterness, anger, and deceit between Mal, Nova, and Stephanie, or can it be bridged in time? Koomson’s fifth novel is a dramatic, intense story about love and forgiveness. --Hilary Hatton

Review

“Beautifully written, with characters you’ll really care about—this is not to be missed.”
She (U.K.)
 
“A heartbreaking story . . . You’ll need tissues. 5 stars.”
Heat (U.K.)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Original edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385344260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385344265
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #994,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Alisa Gomez on November 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
I finished reading this book last night, but today the story is still haunting me. Dorothy Koomson wrote the story from the perspectives of two women, Nova, and Mal's wife, Stephanie. Despite that, the story is about Mal and Nova. About Nova, a beautiful black woman, and Mal, a gorgeous white man, and their great love for each other that can never be fully realised. These two characters knew each other from birth, grew up like family, were soulmates and best friends, but their destiny was to always be each other's support, each other's everything, yet never lovers or spouses.
This book frustrated me! The back cover provided a certain amount of information about the story: Mal and his wife, Stephanie, asked Nova to have a baby for them, but then changed their minds when Mal's wife found a text from Mal to Nova saying "goodnight beautiful". Nova was then forced to raise the baby she had meant them to have. I found Ms Koomson took an inordinate amount of time to unravel the story to that point of the action. There was something about the underlying tone of the tale that made me impatient to just know how the story resolved.
Ultimately, "Goodnight Beautiful" was painful and sad. A story of mental illness, the depths of human strength, the bonds that hold marriages together, and the deepest purest love that can exist between a man and a woman, though they may not be able to fuly realise it in their present lifetimes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bookfaced on January 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is the second Koomson book I have read. And I loved it. The only disapointing thing to me is the ending. Why? Why couldnt they run off into the sunset at the end after all of that. My favorite part of the book was when Nova accused Mal of never wanting her. His speech after that, the missed opportunites. I agree with the previous review that it was a bit frustrating that they couldnt get hooked up. But overall it is still a great read in my opinion. Stehanie,....hated her!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eliza Bennet VINE VOICE on September 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you can stick with it, this book becomes very emotional at the end. But to get to that point, you have to tolerate the style of the book - first person narrative with no visible clues as to who is talking. You also have to buy into people making very unusual decisions.

Of the four main characters of the book, Nova is the most interesting. She is smart, strong, and gifted. She loves the unfortunately named Mal (my old high school French taught me that mal meant sick or pain as in mal a la tete for headache). Mal marries the troubled Stephanie, bipolar, who eventually wants a baby. They ask Nova to carry a child for them, and bring Leo into the world. Stephanie's decision, and Mal's capitulation, were the turning points of the story, and lie at the heart of why I don't love this book. Mal, almost crippled with wanting to do the right thing, would never have made this decision. Everything following this becomes forced. While the author, Dorothy Koomson, pulls it together at the last minute for the ending, it is a sad ending.

There are no feel-good moments in this book at all. Koomson aimed for stark reality, and in some ways she totally missed the mark, and in others she hit it out of the ballpark. I give this book three stars because I am totally torn about liking and disliking it, and 2 ½ stars isn't an option.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Laurel-Rain Snow TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Seven-year-old Leo lies in a hospital bed, comatose, after a seemingly minor accident followed by surgery. By his bedside, his mother Nova recalls the moments of their lives together. But once upon a time, long ago in her own childhood, she and her best friend Mal were like two sides of one coin. Their bond was strong and one that they thought would never be broken.

Through flashbacks, we see the journey of Nova and Mal, how they gradually forged separate lives in their adulthood, while still maintaining a very strong connection. When Mal met Stephanie, however, things changed--just a bit. And when he married her, Nova knew that their relationship, with its strong friendship bonds, had morphed into something else--a friendship that now included the three of them.

The collision course that severs the connections between them begins when Stephanie and Mal want a baby, but Stephanie cannot have her own; they know that adoption will not be possible because of Stephanie's history and emotional problems. They approach Nova, asking her to carry their baby. After much thought and considerable anguish, Nova agrees.

Eight years later, Nova is raising her son Leo alone. What happened and how did everything go wrong?

Answering those questions fills the pages of this compelling novel that probes below the surface, peeling back the layers to finally reveal the hidden motivations that altered all of their lives.

Will Mal finally meet his son and join the others at his bedside? Will his presence heal the wounds? And will the tragedy finally change the future for all of them?

The characters were richly detailed, with all the flaws and strengths of real people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
Reading this book was as frustrating as reading any and all Jodi Picoult books. The characters did stupid, ridiculous things and you pretty much knew what would happen and how the book would end, but at the same time, you just couldn't put the darn thing down.

When I first started reading this book, I thought immediately that this was a book I was going to love, but then, the back story of the characters started and I kind of got stuck. At first I was confused as to who all these characters were and how they were related to one another. When I finally got that straightened out, I was slowly losing interest in the story. I never really understood the "love" between Nova and Mal. It seemed that based on what was presented in terms of their growing up together, it was understandable that they would love one another like a brother and sister, but anything more than that was never really clearly defined.

The characters are not dislikable people, but certainly there decision making is somewhat lacking. It was Mal I disliked the most. He really didn't seem to me to be the honorable guy the other characters in the book thought he was, and it was Keith I had the most sympathy for. In my mind, he was Leo's "real" father, but certainly didn't seem to be treated very well by Nova. For some reason it was Stephanie who made the most sense to me. You know immediately that there is something mentally wrong with her, and I actually found her to be the most realistic character.

There were some extemporaneous plot points that really didn't need to be in the book. As a child Nova saw and conversed with Mal's father shortly after the fathers' death (this had no impact on the story at all.
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