Tag Archives: Second Story Press

Saying Good-bye to London: Hard-hitting Novel Likely to Evoke Strong Responses

A great review makes for a great day! My publisher, Second Story Press, forwarded me this strong review from Resource Links, (Connecting Classrooms, libraries and Canadian Learning Resources).

BURTINSHAW, Julie

Saying Good-bye to London

Second Story Press, 2017. 262p. Gr. 8- 10. 978-1-77260-029-2. Pbk. $12.95

Saying Good-bye to London is a hard-hitting yet sensitively written novel about teen pregnancy, told primarily from the perspective of fifteen-year-old Francis, a quiet boy whose first romance leads to a baby, an adoption, and a rapid transition to the responsibilities of adult life.

The novel spans a little more than a year. Francis meets Sawyer, their relationship blooms, and within a few months they’ve bro- ken up over the news of Sawyer’s pregnancy. When Francis first learns that Sawyer is pregnant, he reacts very, very badly. It is only through the persistent direction of his friends that he starts to change his attitude. As such, readers are invited to grow with Francis – and with Sawyer. Although most of the time read- ers experience the story through Francis’s eyes, now and then the author lets readers slip into Sawyer’s point of view, as well as that of various other characters, lending a much broader view to the unfolding events. The plot never drags; the narration is direct and matter of fact, and it communicates without becoming preachy, a tone books about teen pregnancy sometimes adopt.

At its core, however, Saying Good-bye to London is a novel about fathers. Sawyer’s best friend, Jack, is homeless because his abusive father has thrown him out for being gay. At the same time, Francis’s best friend, Kevin, is living through the death of his father, who has been an important figure in Francis’s life. Francis and Sawyer both have complex relationships with their own fathers. Though boys may be reluctant to read a book apparently about pregnancy, this one offers some deep thinking about what it means to be a good man, what it means to be a father (rather than just a “sperm donor,” as Sawyer crisply comments), what it means to be a good partner.

This novel is likely to evoke strong responses. It would make an excellent selection for a teen reading group or as an independent novel study in grade nine or ten. Readers are sure to have opinions about Sawyer’s choice to have the baby, the process of private adoption, the couple selected to adopt baby London, and Francis’s treatment of Sawyer. Layers of complexity in the text will encourage conversation and reflection, and there are numerous themes readers can evaluate against their own morals and ethics. Saying Good-bye to London is a rewarding book on many levels.

Thematic Links: Pregnancy; Adoption; Families; Fathers; Vancouver

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Review Booklist Saying Goodbye to London

I am really pleased with this review from Booklist for my latest book Saying Goodbye to London (Second Story Press)

Shy Francis is so stunned when Sawyer asks him to dance that he can’t not accept. “I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of each other,” she predicts near the end of the evening, and, sure enough, their lives take a sudden shift. But the throes of new romance evolve when Sawyer gets pregnant. The shock of the pregnancy—and the fear, anger, and trauma it introduces into the lives of the two teens—is the gut-wrenching center of the story. How do Francis and Sawyer tell their parents, and what are their options? After an anguished phase, life begins to come together. With the help of their parents and a remarkable pair of friends who are dealing with individual struggles as well, the two put together a plan that feels right and begin to select adoptive parents for London, the baby daughter on the way. Burtinshaw’s close look at teen pregnancy and other life crises mostly avoids a moralistic slant, effectively focusing instead on pulling through tough times. — Anne O’Malley

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New Book: Saying Goodbye to London Review

I’m thrilled to share the first review on the Advance Copy of my new book Saying Goodbye to London. (Second Story Press) My fellow writers will know the work involved in seeing a new book coming to life! I’m beaming all over 🙂

Check it out here: CM: Canadian Review of Materials and can be found in the most recent issue, Volume XXIII, No. 17 which is located at

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