Starting with Goodbye, Lisa Romeo

1 May, 2018

“Lisa Romeo’s compelling memoir is both a loving tribute to her adored father and a clear-eyed portrait of their complicated relationship. Reading it, you can’t help but reflect on your own familial bonds—but you may also find, as I did, that Lisa’s lovely writing and startling insights lead you into deeper territory, as she wrestles with questions of identity, mortality, and the vagaries of love.”  —Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World

Starting with Goodbye begins with loss and ends with love, as a midlife daughter rediscovers her enigmatic father after his death. Lisa has little time for grief, but when her dead dad drops in for “conversations,” his absent presence invites Lisa to examine why the parent she had turned away from in life now holds her spellbound.

Lisa reconsiders the affluent upbringing he financed (filled with horses, lavish vacations, bulging closets), and the emotional distance that grew when he retired to Las Vegas and she remained in New Jersey where she and her husband earn moderate incomes. She also confronts death rituals, navigates new family dynamics, while living both in memory and the unfolding moment.

In this brutally honest yet compelling portrayal and tribute, Lisa searches for meaning, reconciling the Italian-American father—self-made textile manufacturer who liked newspapers, smoking, Las Vegas craps tables, and solitude—with the complex man she discovers influenced everything, from career choice to spouse.

By forging a new father-daughter “relationship,” grief is transformed to hopeful life-affirming redemption. In poignant, often lyrical prose, this powerful, honest book proves that when we dare to love the parent who challenged us most, it’s never too late.