How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

Robot Girl meets Ghost Boy. Robot Girl falls for Ghost boy (sort of). Ghost Boy holds Robot Girl at arm’s length due to emotional trauma suffered since childhood. Robot Girl understands until she doesn’t. How long before Ghost Boy disappears or Robot Girl has had enough? In this unconventional love story, Cindy Sherman wanna-be Beatrice (aka Robot Girl) finds herself drawn to caustic, pale-to-the-point-of Albino Jonah (aka Ghost Boy), an angry loner at her new Baltimore school. Bea, forced to move her senior year because of her dad’s job, is wondering if she’s becoming a robot because she feels nothing as she observes the disintegration of her parents’ marriage. Jonah, withdrawn to the point of hermit-ism since the death of his twin brother, refuses to have anything to do with the classmates who dubbed him Ghost Boy, because of his tendency to, well, haunt the halls without ever interacting with anyone. These two oddballs end up bonding over their shared love of a melancholy late night radio show called Night Lights where a group of lonely callers phone in their secret hopes, fears and insecurities. Not only have Bea and Jonah found each other, but they have found a tribe in the Night Lights and for the first time they both feel as though they finally belong. All is well until other boys at school start paying more attention to Bea, and Jonah discovers a horrifying secret about the death of his brother. Both of these things begin to wear on the fragile cloth of their unique relationship. Can a Robot Girl find true love with a Ghost Boy? Or is her heart too hard and his too insubstantial? I know I am in true love with this idiosyncratic little book and do not hesitate to dub it one of the best YA debuts of the year. It is moving and funny with whip smart dialogue and reminds me in the best possible way of the most under appreciated of John Hughes’s movies, Some Kind of Wonderful. Bea and Jonah were just so INTERESTING, with their meaningful conversations about everything from John Waters films to the mental state of Icelandic hairdressers, that when I finished the book I was just SICK about the fact that they weren’t real. Everyone, everyone, EVERYONE should read it because, like it or not, we all have a little Robot Girl or Ghost Boy deep down inside. Check out this Entertainment Weekly article about more “Quirky Love” on film, and this awesome video of author Natalie Standiford on the guitar with fellow YA rockstars Libba Bray, Daniel Ehrenhaft and Barnabas Miller in their cover band Tiger Beat.

12 thoughts on “How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

  1. I know! You nailed this book. A person reads and reads and reads then picks up a galley off the pile and there IT is! This book! I wish I had a case of fifty and could hand them to everyone I know.

  2. I agree with absolutely everything you said. I loved this so much and still reread it. Will be shoving it into the hands of my friends when it releases!

  3. I wish I felt the same, but while I enjoyed some elements of this book, I fundamentally disliked the main characters too much to enjoy it as a whole.

  4. I didn’t pick this up at ALA but I’m hoping the arc-fairy takes pity on me and one turns up on my doorstep. It sounds like my kind of book!

  5. Wow! What a great rewiew! I’ve never heard of it, but I’ll make sure that I check it out the next time I go to the libary!

  6. Thanks Jen for a great book to read based on your review and mention of this as one of the 10 great books in 2009…hope I got that right…Loved the bright pink cover, each chapter is pink, the page numbers are pink with some solid black pages and the cover has a black telephone hanging off the hook….
    I just loved Beatrice, she begins the book in August moving once again and her mother is upset about it and Bea doesn’t know why, but when she doesn’t get upset (like her mother) with the death of the neighbor’s gerbil, her mother calls her “heartless” and a “robot” so begins the journey of Robot Girl. Each month is a new pink chapter, and Bea makes friends but is drawn to Ghost Boy, Jonah Tate, who looks like Casper, is an outcast and has a major chip on his shoulder. But Jonah and Bea forge a close friendship based on listening to the radio callers talking. But Jonah is tortured about the death of his twin brother and even though Bea will steadfastly help him in any way, Jonah uses their friendship and then pushes Bea away. Bea shed her Robot image as each page turned, her family changed, and Bea became a really sweet girl who will always hold a fond place in her heart for Jonah and she will move on to college. Who knows what Jonah will do?

  7. This was a great book. I loveloveloved it.
    However, it sorta reminded me of the plot of “What Happened to Lani Garver”. The storylines are both very similar.

  8. I just finished this book! It was heartbreaking without the romance that most books include. The characters felt real and I was said when it ended… The book was great in the sense that it was not a total high school clique.

  9. I totally agree!
    I’ve had this book for quite some time but I always reread it when I get the chance.
    I remember after finishing the book for the first time, I was so sad and anxious because the book ended.. ):

    It’s a great book and needs more love!

    I know I love it. (:

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