It Started with Goodbye is a YA romance/realistic fiction novel for grades 8-12.

Tatum (16) is left under house arrest with her overly-strict stepmother, Belen, after she gets arrested for shoplifting and her dad is called away for business out of the country for the summer. Her stepsister, Tilly, is so busy with her ballet and being brainwashed by Belen that she has never really talked to Tatum even though they have been sharing a house for the past ten years.

The kicker is that Tatum didn’t shoplift. She was driving her friend and the friend’s boyfriend to the mall. The boyfriend stole something without the girls know and hops into Tatum’s car where they are arrested. So now Tatum has a record following her into college applications even though she is innocent. And her friend, Ashlyn, threw her under the bus and hasn’t talked to her since. I was annoyed that Tatum still tried to be friends with her after. I guess she is a better person than me and I’ll let it slide because she never took blame for something she didn’t do.

I wouldn’t say this was a retelling, but it is very similar to Cinderella. Evil stepmom, stepsister that ignores her. Housework and community service and being locked in your house. A cute boy that is not entirely sure of her identity and a left behind sentimental object to identify her with.

While the house arrest is happening, Tatum decides to use her time starting a graphic design business after designing a new friend’s blog logo. She ends up getting a mysterious and flirty customer that wants her to design his online portfolio for colleges to look at. On top of that, she meets a cute boy at an art & performance exhibition at Tilly’s school, but has to leave abruptly when Belen throws a fit about her running late to leave.

Meanwhile, Tatum’s stepgrandmother moves in temporarily to help babysit Tatum. She is angry that her stepmother ordered this, but she also likes Abuela Blanche a lot better than the rest of her family and Blanche seems to understand her better than anyone else.

It was a little overdramatic in that Tatum is a strong girl and I can’t see her hands shaking and knees buckling, which happens often in the story. There are better ways to show her hurt feelings and nervousness. I like that she meets new friends, refuses to take blame for what she didn’t do, but finally fesses up to her poor disposition and gets to reap the benefits of trying to be a better person even though she wasn’t all that bad in the first place.

The boy drama, fun friendships, and family values make this a sweet summer romance novel for fans of Sarah Dessen. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, but it wasn’t the best I’ve ever read.