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Never Say Goodbye    by Susan Lewis order for
Never Say Goodbye
by Susan Lewis
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Be sure to have a box of tissues handy before sitting down to read Susan Lewis's latest, Never Say Goodbye; you will need them. Lewis continues to write about tough topics with heart and sensitivity - this time breast cancer is at the core of her story. But she also continues to inject plenty of comic relief, via quirky and spirited characters.

Josie Clark and her husband Jeff are strictly working class. She takes jobs as a cleaner and also works at a diner. Jeff, who has 'a heart of gold', is a taxi driver. Ends barely meet. Josie loves Jeff though she has been uncertain of his feelings for her since he had a brief affair with her once best friend and neighbor Dawnie (who moved away afterwards).

And Josie adores her two children, though she is heartbroken by eighteen year old Ryan's ending up in prison. Easily led, he did participate in a burglary but did not assault anyone - Ryan confessed to that only after threats were made to his family. Fortunately, Josie's twenty-one year old daughter Lily is a success story, doing well at university and dating fellow student Jasper, who is 'the complete package'.

After Josie finds a lump in her breast and begins the process of finding out whether or not she should be concerned, we meet other key characters. There's wealthy Isabella Monkton, who lost her twin sister to breast cancer and has focused her life since on Talia's small children, Osacar and Nell. She often looks after them while her archeologist brother-in-law and his new wife (whom she resents, perhaps unfairly) travel.

There's also the surgeon, Harry Beck, whom Josie consults about the breast lump. He treated Isabella's sister through her illness, and is clearly attracted to Isabella. Though he's married with children, his wife has been unhappy with his working hours and is involved with someone else. Isabella volunteers for Breast Cancer Care and this is how she and Josie meet.

A surprising (given their very different stations in life) friendship quickly grows between the two women. Though she has no financial problems, Isabella does have a dark secret in her past, that haunts her and inhibits her from forming new relationships. Josie is eventually able to help her with this, just as Bel helps her new friend to deal with the challenges ahead of her.

Though they are big ones, Josie finds a new strength inside herself, a freedom to speak out as she never would have before. She develops a 'lion heart' and succeeds in making some dreams come true. And she knows why she 'would never say goodbye'. If you enjoy an engrossing, yet heartwarming read, then this is one you will devour and want to share with others.

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