Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

February 10, 2015 Book Review, Young Adult 10 ★★★★★

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.

The Last Time We Say GoodbyeThe Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on February 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Edelweiss
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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.


About Cynthia Hand

Cynthia Hand is the New York Times bestselling author of the Unearthly series with HarperTeen: UNEARTHLY, HALLOWED, RADIANT (an enovella) and BOUNDLESS. Currently she lives in southern California with her husband and two small children. She teaches courses in creative writing at Pepperdine University. Her next book, THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE, will be released in February 2015.

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

10 Responses to “Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand”

  1. Lily

    Sad books are difficult because either they work for me or they don’t. i do love reading sad books though because when you find a good one, it stays with you forever. SO HAPPY to hear that this one worked for you Sara 🙂 i can’t wait to read it 🙂
    Lily recently posted…All the Bright Places: ReviewMy Profile

  2. Brooke

    Great review. I have a funny relationship with these types of books. For the most part if they are done well, then I don’t mind the sadness or heart ache that happens. But many times they are just thrown together and it’s full of sadness and nothing else. I think Hand did a great job with balance in this book. Also, the main character had so much growth during her grieving process I could not help but connect with her (despite the fact that I’ve never gone through something like this myself). This is a must read for sure. I truly loved it.
    Brooke recently posted…Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Elemental Series by Elana Johnson @ElanaJMy Profile

  3. Patrick @ The Bookshelves

    I totally agree with you about sad books – you expect them to be super sad and won’t read them, then you eventually fall in love with the book lol. Great review and I need to pick this one up soon 🙂

    Happy Reading Sara,
    Patrick @ The Bookshelves

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