Lily Hates Goodbyes Review
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Most people who know me know that I’m an emotional person. I cry at almost anything: dog food commercials, country music songs on the radio, the Star Spangled Banner being sung at a baseball game. Often, reading a children’s book will have the same effect on me, and there are a few that I know will make me tear up when I’m reading them to my son. Lily Hates Goodbyes is one such book. It could be the pregnancy hormones speaking, but I know otherwise. Lily hits very close to home for both me and my son, ensuring that bedtime can often turn into a waterworks.

Jerilyn Marler wrote the book for her granddaughter, Lily, who was having a very difficult time adjusting to her father (who is in the Navy) being away on deployment. The concept of a parent being gone (or “at work”) for several months or even a year at a time is a hard one for a young child to accept. Lily is only four years old, the same as my son, and I see many of the same behaviors in her as I see in my own little boy.

The book does a great job of addressing the feelings a child might feel when their parent is deployed: sadness, heartbreak, missing the parent, anxiety. It also discusses how a child might act out during these times—Lord knows that when my husband (who is also in the Navy) is gone, even if it’s just for a week, my son is a totally different person, always pushing the envelope and testing limits with me. At the back of the book, Marler even gives suggestions for parents on how to get the most out of the book and how to use Lily and her story to help get your own child through their own period of separation.

The illustrations aren’t really anything special. This isn’t one of those children’s books that I’d describe as “beautiful” or a “work of art.” But the pictures are sweet and brightly colored—and just cartoonish enough to hold a child’s attention.

I would highly recommend Lily Hates Goodbyes to any parent who has to be away from home for extended amounts of time. Just because Lily’s dad is in the Navy, it doesn’t mean that the story couldn’t work just as well for a child whose parent travels for their civilian job.

When I first read this book to my son, he didn’t seem too impressed by it, and he hasn’t requested it at bedtime again. After the first time I read it, though, I brought the book downstairs, so I could keep it close to my laptop for when I wrote this review. Many mornings, I’ve come downstairs to find my son sitting there, “reading” the book. It must have resonated with him on some level because he spends a good amount of time looking at the pictures, recounting the story to himself. As I said, though, it’s a hard book for me to get through. Even now, when I re-read it to myself for this review, I was getting misty as I watched Lily’s sadness and anger over her father’s absence—and how hard it was for him to be gone for “about a billion days.” The best part is when Lily goes from hating goodbyes to loving hellos, when her father returns from his deployment.

God willing, my husband won’t be deploying for another year or so, but I’m definitely going to keep this book on hand for when the inevitable happens. I’m sure there are many other parents who will be doing the same.

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