Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- February 10, 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: The Unearthly series
Amazon • Goodreads •
I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!
Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”
The last time Lex can remember being happy is before her brother killed himself. Now she’s haunted by ghosts that keep her from moving forward — the ghost of her brother, of the guilt and of the life she had before everything happened (like a family that wasn’t broken, a boyfriend, friends). While the grief is shared, she alone carries the burden of knowing about a text Tyler sent that night that could have made everything different.
Oh man, you guys. Recently it seems I’ve been reading a lot of books about suicide or the grief experienced from losing a loved one from suicide. My heart, I think, was beginning to look like Swiss cheese and Cynthia Hand just obliterated whatever was left of it with The Last Time We Say Goodbye. I really super loved her Unearthly series for MANY reasons (seriously that series is AH-MAZING if you dig paranormal) but I loved how skilled Cynthia was in writing some of the heavier stuff in that series and the way, as a reader, she made me feel it. Some of the most moving parts of that series, for me, were her exploration of loss and grief. So I KNEW she was going to make my heart take a beating if she wrote a whole book exploring that. AND SHE DID. OH SHE DID — so poignantly and heartachingly well.
It’s hard to talk too objectively about this book because I feel it TOO MUCH. The way Cynthia Hand wrote Lex’s grief makes me get a lump in my throat just thinking about it. I read A LOT of grief books (for reasons) and this is just so authentic in the way it portrays it not only through Lex but her family. If I hadn’t already known that, in fact, Hand HAS lost someone (her brother) I would have been sitting here just KNOWING that she had because there’s just this intangible quality about the way she writes grief that I just don’t think a person who hasn’t experienced grief and loss truly can do. Lex’s brand of grief felt a lot like my own after I lost my mom — especially the shutting people out. There were just these little nuances and small moments that Hand just gets right. So right that it hurts. Also, THAT GUILT SHE HAS SURROUNDING THAT NIGHT? A friend of mine had almost the same exact thing happen when a mutual friend of ours committed suicide and I know how intrusive that guilt was.
I loved that we meet Lex months after everything happens. It’s the time, I think, in my own grieving experience where I felt the worst. The house is more quiet because less people are coming over. The phone rings less. You are forced to be alone with your thoughts more because the distractions of death (the logistics, the funeral, the social calls, etc. etc.) are gone and the world expects you to get back into your normal routines and habits….except…you know..like with this person-shaped hole missing from your life. Hand captures that weird limbo where the “formal” grieving happens and the “back to real life” happens SO PERFECTLY. You are still thinking and feeling it so deeply but with that “I AM PRETENDING TO BE FINE” mask on and trying to pretend to give a crap about Normal Life Things/also really caring about those things.
I know I’m focusing on the grief aspect of this book but it’s what made this an excellent read for me because of how intricate Hand made it! I will say the romance is SO WELL DONE. It was sweet and realistic and I LOVED IT SO MUCH. To be honest, I really did love a lot of the relationship explored and how your grief impacts those and changes the dynamic — from friends who mean well but can’t totally understand to the guilt-ridden parents who feel just as wrecked as you do. I think Hand did a great job showing those relationships and how they fracture and change with the weight of grief but mean so much.
Re-readability: MAYBE. It’s heavy, so I’d really need to be in a mood to tear my heart out.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes!
fans of Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly series that enjoy contemporary, readers looking for books that deal with loss and grief, readers that want to cry or have their heart torn out, readers who can handle a heavy topic such as suicide, fans of quieter novels
I really enjoyed Cynthia Hand’s foray into contemporary YA! It was a HARD book to read. I mean, a clear-your-reading-schedule-because-your-heart-needs-time-to-repair-itself kind of read. It may have been a quieter novel in terms of plot but the way Hand explores loss/grief/guilt/suicide/relationships impacted is just LOUD LOUD LOUD in your heart.
* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
Also, have you read her Unearthly series?? If not, GET ON THAT. I’m not even a paranormal gal and I loved it so much!