Sunday, April 28, 2024

Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel

Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel is a novel set in Seattle that tells the story of software engineer Sam Elling and the computer simulation he creates for his girlfriend Meredith so that she can communicate via email, and later via video chat, with her grandmother Livvie who recently passed away. 

Sam scrapes the digital record of how Livvie communicated with Meredith when they would email and video chat, and writes the program so that it provides back the communication to Meredith that she likely would have given. Sam, Meredith, and her cousin Dash then create a company, RePose, to provide this service for others, with people coming to the RePose space rented in Sam and Meredith's apartment building where they can communicate electronically with loved ones who have passed. A community of sorts then forms with those people sharing in common recent loss, and Sam and Meredith trying to help them through it.

The idea is to provide people a way to say goodbye and deal with their grief, but it's an open question whether the technology a healthy thing for people to have available, with it both a tool to say goodbye and to not move forward. It's an interesting and heartfelt story, with a turn taken towards the end making it that much more profound.