Title: The Last Time We Say Goodbye
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
I’m going to be honest – I picked this book to read at the Starbucks at Barnes and Noble and finished it in one sitting, and I chose it solely because the cover has this really nice – I don’t know how to describe it, but almost – matte? This really nice-feeling matte. Whatever. It turned out to be a great choice and one of the most striking books I’ve read recently.
A brief summary from the author’s website:
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.
The Last Time We Say Goodbye is another book about the aftermath of loved one’s suicide. At the point that I read this book, this was the third about this topic I’d read in about the span of a week, which was concerning. Why is this such a popular topic for new YA novels? Is it because teens are dealing with this more frequently? Is it because the authors have gone through this? Why? I don’t quite know.
At any rate, the book was well-written, no doubt about it. The imagery was vivid, the dialogue was sharp, and Lex was just the sort of complicated character that I am drawn towards. She’s not particularly likable, but in this case it’s understandable. She’s put up a wall of sorts between her and the rest of the world, and for good reason.
Throughout the book, I knew Lex felt guilty about her brother’s suicide – but I just didn’t know why. That mystery catapulted my interest, especially because it’s another one of those situations where no one’s going to forgive you. You have to find the strength to do that yourself, in that instance, and watching Lex’s struggle was difficult but emotionally cathartic. Raw guilt, raw grief, raw pain – it was hard to get through, sometimes, because my heart hurt by association. But I think the unfiltered emotion is what really lets this book shine.
This isn’t exactly a feel-good novel, but it might be just what you need. I didn’t enjoy reading this book – instead, I felt privileged.
5 out of 5 stars.