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How To Say Goodbye In Robot Paperback – December 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up—Because of her father's academic career, Beatrice Szabo's family has moved multiple times, most recently from Ithaca, NY, to Baltimore. In order to protect herself from the emotional fallout caused by the constant moves and her parents' troubled relationship, she has invented a cold, emotionless persona for herself called Robot Girl. When she begins her senior year at a small private school, she enters a class where the students have known one another since kindergarten. She finds herself drawn to outcast Jonas Tate, aka Ghost Boy, who introduces her to the Night Light show, a local late-night radio show. They form an intense friendship, complicated by Jonas's obsession with his mentally disabled twin brother, whom his father had told him died in an automobile accident years before. When Jonas discovers that Matthew is actually alive and in a local institution, events gradually spiral out of control as Jonas plots to liberate him. Beatrice begins to realize that her deep love and friendship for Jonas cannot help him overcome all of his emotional difficulties. This is an honest and complex depiction of a meaningful platonic friendship and doesn't gloss over troubling issues. The minor characters, particularly the talk-show regulars, are quirky and depicted with sly humor. Teens will identify with the intense emotions of Beatrice and Jonas, the reasons they are drawn to each other, and the ups and downs of their relationship. An outstanding choice for a book discussion group.—Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ END --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The hot pink cover featuring a telephone dangling by the cord fairly screams teen romance! but might give the wrong impression of this quirky novel. Bea, the new girl in a school where most of the kids have known each other since kindergarten, befriends Jonah, an outcast deemed Ghost Boy after a cruel middle-school prank. She finds herself torn between normal highschool activities and spending time with Jonah, listening to the bizarre but engaging Night Light, a radio show haunted by some of Baltimore’s loneliest weirdos. Theirs is not a budding romance, but a tumultuous, hot-and-cold friendship; they love each other, but should never even think about a relationship. Credit is due to Standiford for the delicate portrayal of Jonah’s home life, which could have veered into soap-opera territory, especially with the reappearance of his long-thought-dead, mentally disabled twin brother. The heart of this novel is neither cold and metallic nor full of romance and delusion. Instead, it’s very human. Grades 9-12. --Courtney Jones --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 9 - 7
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; Reprint edition (December 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545107091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545107099
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Natalie Standiford was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, but now lives in New York City. She plays bass in the rock bands Tiger Beat (featuring fellow YA writers Libba Bray, Dan Ehrenhaft, and Barney Miller) and Ruffian. Find out more at her web site:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By GLBT VINE VOICE on August 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There's been a lot of really good writing in the young adult fiction genre over the past few years, and "How to Say Goodbye in Robot" belongs at the very top of the list.

It's not what I'd call a plot-driven book... the story is about a girl, Bea, who's family has just moved for the millionth time. It's her senior year of high school and Bea is definitely a bit on the unconventional side; for fun, she and her mother put on costumes and pose like characters from old movies and then photograph themselves.

At the new school, Bea meets Jonah, known to his classmates as Ghost Boy in part because of his pale hair, flour-white skin, and eyes that are "gray as pond ice." As the story progresses, Bea gets to know Jonah, Jonah gets to know Bea, and they share a number of slightly surreal adventures together.

Part of what makes this book so good is that it avoids all the easy cliches that one so often encounters in this genre. Neither Bea nor Jonah are popular kids, but we aren't subjected to scenes of high school humiliations; it's their senior year of high school and everyone has sort of outgrown that kind of cruelty. Also, author Natalie Standiford manages to maintain a fine balance between the bleak and the fun.

Here's a brief excerpt to give you a sense of the writing:

I turned a corner and came to a small church. There was a head-stone near the path leading to the church's wooden doors. I stepped closer to read the headstone. It said FOR THE UNICORN CHILD.

That is so cool, I thought. What a funky town this was. I imagined a neighborhood Legend of the Unicorn Child, about a one-horned little boy who'd died tragically, hit by a car or shot by a mugger or maybe poisoned by lawn pesticides.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on October 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is not about the plot. I don't want to spoil it by giving it away, but
there's really not much plot there. Girl moves to new city. Girl's parents are having trouble. Girl meets boy - ROMANCE DOES NOT DEVELOP.

OK, maybe that's different. Usually, these teen books involve that aspect of the relationship. The main character is Bea, AKA Robot Girl, who's just moved with her family to Baltimore. The other main character is Jonah, the 'Ghost Boy.'

The girl and boy become very close friends. In a strange way, it reminds me of the relationship between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanssen in Lost in Translation, but these are teenagers, not adults.

This book is heavily character driven. Most of the characters are very well developed, even the minor characters. We get to see depth in the other kids in school, parents, even the circle of friends that develop around a late-night radio talk show.

There is a tragedy, parents separate, butmanage to get back together. An important character dies. The Bea/Jonah relationship is tested.

I am not sure how to classify the ending. Persoanlly, I think it ended well. The 2 main characters never 'hook up,' as young people like to say. There are some references to sex and both of the main characters (HS Seniors - minors) drink alcohol (quite often). There is a reference to an extramarital affair. A major character runs away from home.

I think the book is positive. It shows that young people can have important, emotionally significant and meaningful relationships with members of the opposite sex that do not involve romance or sex.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sara VINE VOICE on October 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
How to Say Goodbye in Robot is definitely on my list of favorites for 2009... if fact, it makes my favorite books ever list! With the amount of books I read, that isn't an easy feat!

The story How to Say Goodbye in Robot is painfully realistic at some points, but that just makes it hauntingly beautiful. I loved the old-timer radio show that Bea and Jonah listen to - it made me want to turn on the AM radio and find my own quirky insomniacs to help guide me through tough times.

There was something about Bea that I found easy to relate to. Before she found that late night radio show, Bea fantasized about death - not suicide - just the comfort and relaxation of being separate from life. I may not have been quite as instense as Bea, but I've often wondered about death as I lay awake an night too. Bea struggles with showing her emotions; she is afraid to grow attached to people and places because she often has to pack up and move as soon as she makes connections. I undestood Bea's confusion and her ability to accept the fact that, maybe, she is a robot: cold, unfeeling, and hard.

I loved Jonah. He was one of those characters that will draw a reader in like a moth to flame. He is so perfectly broken - I can see why Bea would be drawn to him in her own broken state.

How to Say Goodbye in Robot is not a love story, but it is terribly romantic. Jonah and Bea have so much chemistry and truly love one another, flaws and all. I found the sappy teenager in me yearning for them to be together as a couple. But Jonah and Bea are never a couple - they are so much more. To me, this novel emphasizes how important connections other than the physical are - and how those ties can run so much deeper.

I simply cannot write a review that will do this novel justice! It is one of my absolute favorites that I'll have on my go-to list for recommendations. How to Say Goodbye in Robot is a must read for 2009!
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