<b>The thinking person's beach read</b> Katherine Taylor's <b>Rules for Saying Goodbye</b> is a novel filled with sadness, hilarity and the futile feeling that often comes from trying to figure out what to make of one's life. The story centers on Katherine Taylor, a girl from provincial Fresno, California, sent away to boarding school in Massachusetts at age 11 to come of age among cruel girls for whom suffering was a contest and social structures were strictly defined. Readers follow her through college, graduate school, one bartending job and one completely wrong-for-her boyfriend after another, as she wanders California, New York, England, France and Belgium. The book's gossipy quality (not to mention its cover) will remind some readers of chick lit, but this book is not like most of the chick lit out there. It is smarter, funnier, darker and more relevant. The angst of growing up and wanting to be someone brilliant but not knowing how to do it is beautifully portrayed. While most people's lives don't revolve quite so much around drinking, drugs prescribed by fathers and following boyfriends around the world, the book is still relatable and will speak to those of Taylor's generation who are stymied by the feeling that they must be instant successes. Given that the author and the protagonist share the same name and much of the same history, it's easy to get caught up in wondering how much of this book is memoir, which does detract from the story at times. Still, the Katherine Taylor of the story is a fun girl to be around. She's wildly funny and seeks to be independent while consistently falling in with men who will do her no good. She's the kind of girl you want to take under your wing, or at least take for a drink so you can hear all her stories. We can only hope she'll get her life together at some point and learn that happiness is possible, even when you're alone, and even in California. <i>Sarah E. White writes from Arkansas.</i>

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