Reviewed by Claudia Robinson

“No longer HIM. No longer a husband. No longer a man who goes to the fish store to buy dinner for himself and his wife. In less than a year I would be no longer a husband longer than I was a husband. But we’d lived together two more years than that. But then will come the day when I will have been no longer with Aura longer than I was with Aura. ” – Francisco Goldman, Say Her Name

On July 25, 2007, Frank’s life crashes and burns. While on vacation with his beloved young wife and soul mate, a tragedy occurs, an accident that could have happened, and yet didn’t, to anyone, taking the life of Aura and altering his, forever. Adding insult to injury, Aura’s mother, Juanita, holds him accountable for her daughter’s death, threatening legal ramifications and ending all contact between them, severing all ties to his beloved, including, her ashes. Say Her Name is Francisco’s (Frank) narrative of the events pre and post Aura’s death, a tome of their meeting, their life, her passions, his idiosyncrasies, the tumultuous ebb and flow of their love, and the slow, but necessary descent into mourning madness that only someone having experienced such a heart wrenching loss, can understand.

Say Her Name is marketed as a biography of the author and his wife’s life, a sort of diary of events, covering the bumbling, innocent, hope laden birth of their relationship, the people involved in their lives, friends and family, and the leading up to analytical perspective of Aura’s untimely and unfortunate death, as well as the post guilt, angst and disintegration of everything familiar and everyone involved. At times, it reads like a glorification of the women he didn’t get to love fully, of her personality, of her beauty, of her intelligence and brilliance, of her joie de vivre and the turbulence of her past. Other times, it reads like a goodbye letter, poignant, tender, intimate, gut wrenchingly sad, raw wounds, salted with the author’s recollections of every detail of their life, and the would and could haves that haunt him.

Woven between Mexico City and New York, past and present, joy and sorrow, hope and despair, are ensnarled together in such a cacophony of color, emotion and detail, that the reader can’t help but feel powerless and moved by the experience, the love, the loss. It’s a breathless, at once vilifying and adoring tale of true love and cruel fate, entwined in an embrace, a duel for life and death. Francisco invites his readers in to his home, his bedroom, his heart and his soul, and offers them up as sacrifice, perhaps in an attempt to find retribution for a crime he didn’t commit, and yet carries the weight of, forever, upon his shoulders.

Say Her Name is a tale of resurrection, one final breath of air, a second coming, a seamless amalgamation of myth and reality that leaves an ache in the hearts of all that read it. For anyone who has ever loved and lost, this book is a must read, at once punitive and analeptic. Read it, but be warned, other than Aura, there is nothing ‘pretty’ about Say Her Name.

Rating: 4/5

Claudia lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband and two children.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Grove Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.