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In the Hello and in the Goodbye by Melissa Whitney

IN THE HELLO AND IN THE GOODBYE is Melissa Whitney's debut novel, a book with disability representation written by a disabled author.

This book is the definition of "lovely"! Not in a superficial way, but really deep down. I fell in love with the MCs, Colm and Evie, from the very first scene in the coffee shop and it only deepened. The supportive cast is wonderful, each person has a distinct individuality and there are so many layers to each relationship between all the characters that it never gets boring to explore their inner worlds.

The author manages to make the characters leap off the page, the world building has small details strewn in at just the right places to place the reader right in the middle of it without ever running the risk of "environmental overload" and the storyline, alternating between the past and present, is never confusing and links perfectly with each other.

Evie and Colm couldn't be more different in their personalities - and yet, they fit so perfectly, you'd think they're yin and yang personified. And where I usually have only exasperated eyerolls for mature characters miscommunicating because very often it feels way too juvenile for their age, Whitney pulls it off on a level that is both age-appropriate and so relatable that all it does is to pull at your heartstrings and root for the couple even more fiercely than you already have. Both Colm and Evie have rich inner worlds, memories, feelings and their own subjective interpretation of events and each other flow in naturally with external events, adding a rich deep layer to the narrative that only enhances the enjoyment of the book.

I will say one thing and this is that I knew, going in, that this was the author's debut novel and I absolutely did not expect such a book. It went above and beyond all my expectations by several miles and all I could think of throughout is how much I loved it. Story, characters and the positive and sensitive way in which the author portrays Colm, a person with ASD, really touched me so deeply. It is really well-researched and written with such deep empathy and understanding. And then there is Colm's beloved Evie, who is as much of a chatterbox as he is a mono-syllabic communicator. But they both adore and love each other deeply for the exact traits that make them different to each other. This appreciation is deep and genuine and carries them through all the difficulties to a happily ever after.

I cannot praise this book enough and am so excited to listen to the second book by the author. If you love to read books by and support authors with disabilities and love to read books with disability representation, then this should absolutely go on the very top of your TBR!

And if you listen to the audio version like I did, you will surely enjoy the narrator's performance, too.

Please heed those trigger warnings!

Books by Melissa Whitney

The Home Series

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Melissa Whitney

With a name like Melissa Whitney, she had two choices; become a Real Housewife or a romance writer. Lucky for us, Andy Cohen hasn’t called yet!

Melissa Whitney hails from Western New York but resides in Southern California with her sports-obsessed husband and rescue pugs. With a master’s in social work from the University of Buffalo (UB), Melissa’s career has focused on people. What’s romance but the exploration of people? The transition from healthcare to romance author was a logical one (at least for Melissa). 

When not in search of the perfect scone at a local bakery, Melissa writes contemporary romances that, much like the perfect cup of tea, are steamy, warm the heart, and nourish the soul. As a legally blind woman married to an autistic man, Melissa’s stories explore themes of disability, mental health, trauma, and family through a steamy, comedic, and sometimes heartbreaking lens. Life is not always a romcom nor a drama, neither are Melissa’s stories. 

On April 2, 2024, Melissa’s debut novel In the Hello and in the Goodbye was released to rave reviews. The contemporary romance debuted in the top ten for new releases and top 100 for overall sales for Disability Fiction and Fiction on People with Disabilities on Amazon.

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