I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by HarperTeen on February 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
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There's death all around us.
We just don't pay attention.
Until we do.
The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.
Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.
As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.
Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.
From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.
I have a love/hate relationship with sad books. I do. I often read a synopsis and think, ‘oh no, just too sad. I can’t do it’. But when I do give them a chance, I almost always end up loving them. Perhaps they are even some of my all-time favorites. That anguish and emotion it can pull out of me where I want to keep reading but at the same time I need breaks to catch my breath? When a book can move you and make you see the beauty beneath all those tears? That is something special. And The Last Time We Say Goodbye is something special. I’ve had a hard time compiling all my thoughts for this review (you don’t even want to know how many times I’d delete paragraphs to start over), worried I wasn’t giving the book the justice it deserves, but I will try.
Lex is our main character and we come in just a couple months after her brother’s suicide. She is having a hard time coming to terms with what happened and all the emotions she is feeling, and what she thinks she isn’t feeling. There is a lot of guilt and blame going around in Lex’s head and she chooses to deal with it all on her own after she pushes away her boyfriend and all her friends. She is plagued with terrifying nightmares where she relives his death over and over as well as seeing visions of him, like he has something left unfinished. Her therapist suggests writing in a journal to help her get out some of her thoughts and feelings. Through these entries we get to experience a lot of memories Lex had with Ty, focusing on the firsts and lasts, which broke my heart. We get to see what kind of relationship they had and Ty’s struggles from early on. This made a great addition to the story. To really feel that impact of loss in her life. It also gave us a chance to get to know those people Lex had backed away from and to feel that additional loss as well. The happier times perfectly blended in to balance out the sadness.
There are just so many faucets to this story. Lex had a lot of questions she may never get the answers to, and I’m sure that is a common feeling among families who lose someone unexpectedly in a tragedy like this. As a mom myself, I felt so much for Lex’s mother. It’s something no one ever wants to think about and I wanted to hug her so hard. I felt for Lex’s friends who didn’t know how to be there for her. When I was the same age as Lex I had a friend lose her brother through a tragic accident and I remember feeling so lost on how to help, what to do. Lex is very analytic and a ‘tell it like it is’ type of character and though I can’t really relate to that aspect of her personality, I found her overall demeanor in this situation so relatable. Everyone handles grief differently and hers was so real and raw. By the end of the novel she became someone to admire with so much courage and strength. I loved her. I flew through the last half of the book at a pace that surprised myself. Towards the end I was a sobbing mess but when I got to the very end, those tears were met with such a big smile at how beautiful it all wrapped up. I felt like Lex got the closure she needed and I got mine.
I was already thoroughly impressed with Cynthia Hand’s writing from the Unearthly series, but she knocked it out of the park with The Last Time We Say Goodbye. The way she handles writing about grief is so tragically beautiful. It rips my heart out in all the best of ways. It makes me feel like I’m right there experiencing it with the characters but also gives me glimpses of hope and happiness mingled in. Grab yourself a copy of this one, along with a box of tissues. It will be needed.
This is going to sound trite, I suppose, but you never know when it’s going to be the last time. That you hug someone. That you kiss. That you say goodbye.