Thursday, January 29, 2015

Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

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I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia HandThe Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on February 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

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.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye is the story of a girl who’s been left behind. Her family is broken, her heart is broken, and her life will now never be the same. After her brother dies, Lex is now defined as this tragic girl with a dead brother; someone to pity, or to avoid completely which is not uncommon in these scenarios – people are simply uncomfortable towards death. If this wasn’t enough for Lex to deal with, there’s these nightmares that make her relive it all nightly…

As you can expect, this novel is full of emotional turmoil. It’s dark and depressing, yet very powerful. Important, even. We’re dealing with death, grief, depression, denial, and everything in between, and these emotions are all very real and unflinching. Lex was given a journal to help with her grief, so we get to feel through her own words exactly what she’s going through – the anger, the sorrow, the borderline overwhelming hurt – as well as exactly how much she loved her brother with her stories of their past together. Even knowing the eventual outcome, I loved getting a glimpse at these simpler times when she was carefree and happy. It allowed us to understand the bond she had with her brother, and it made us see who she was before this tragedy. The topic of suicide is heavy throughout the novel, and incredibly well-handled. I found it to be a very realistic portrayal of depression – in both herself and her brother. Especially when it comes to the guilt that comes hand in hand with tragic events like these. You always blame yourself for not being there, for not helping, for not seeing what is now so clear. If only… Except it’s never that simple. Seeing Lex go through the blaming and the guilt and all the other stages of grief made this all the more authentic. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s a tunnel she’s slowly climbing out of.

Through her journal entries, we start to unravel the events that happened on the night of. So we can finally see why she feels so guilty – why she blames herself so much. These “past” entries are bittersweet because it’s full of love and romance and sweet moments, but you know it’s leading up to something terrible. For this reason, it makes you want to keep at arm’s length to save your own heart. Like, you should know better than to get too attached to the way things were, you know, especially in the romance department. But there’s still a lot of room for hope. Hope that she will eventually stop blaming herself, that she will give herself a chance to try and be happy again, no matter how impossible that seems right now.

Dark books like these do tend to be a hit or miss for some. It requires you to become emotionally invested, which is not always easy knowing from the start that it will bring tears and heartache. If this is your thing, however – if you like to inflict pain upon yourself like I do – this one is very well-written with some deep characterization. It’s a raw look at a family coping with death.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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

  1. JennRenee

    I have heard so many others say the same thing… get ready for pain. I like these type of books I just need to deal with them in small doses so I don’t depress myself. This one sounds really heavy.

  2. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’m glad you loved this one so much, Giselle. I wasn’t the biggest fan but it’s entirely my fault because I knew going in that this would be an emotional read and that I would be all sad. I also had issues with how the MC kept pushing her friends away.
    Great review, Giselle!

  3. Becky

    This book sounds so much up my alley, especially with what I have been reading recently, I think this is definitely something for me! I haven’t seen as much about this one, I feel like All the bright places is dominating blogs at the moment so I like that you’ve given something hype that hasn’t been given as much, or maybe I’m looking in the wrong places? πŸ˜› Anyhow, great review! this is definitely going on my wishlist!

  4. Allison

    Thanks for this review! I like books that explore rich and complex emotional situations, but it’s so hard to find ones that do it well. A lot of authors can get sentimental or even trite. This one sounds like a great read. πŸ™‚

  5. Nova @ Out of Time

    I haven’t read Cynthia’s other books, but I know from what I’ve heard that she’s a stunning writer. I’m definitely interested in reading this because dark books are typically a hit for me as I tend to feel things really deeply.

    I love books that are realistically portrayed because without proper execution, things can get sour… or even worse, offensive. I like that you say that Cynthia Hand totally nailed the execution!

  6. ShootingStarsMag

    I really do like to inflict pain on myself…some of my favorite books are contemporary and emotional. I like the realistic nature of these books. They can be tough, but they are important. I need to read this!

  7. Anshul

    Wow…this definitely looks like the kind of book that I would enjoy reading! Loved your review on it, and I shall be giving this one a try! πŸ™‚

  8. Cait @ Paper Fury

    Ohhh, I WANT to read this but but but…GAH. There are so many sad books coming out this year and I’m not sure I’m mentally ready. *cries a little after All the Bright Places* STILL. This is on my wish-list. x)

  9. Kelsey

    I normally try to stay away from books that will bring so many emotions and pain but I’m so glad I read this one, I really liked it even though I was sobbing at one point.

  10. Ari

    Oh, how I loved this heartbreaking story. I am so happy to see that other love it too! I usually stay away from books about death, but stories like this one are worth the heartache πŸ˜‰

  11. Dreams

    Lovely review. I was torn over whether or not I wanted to read this one. I enjoyed the author’s other series, but contemporary books just aren’t my thing. And with the plot, I was just holding back on committing to it. But with your review and trust in the author, I think I might be able to make it through the emotional aspect of the book in one piece.

  12. Lyn Kaye

    It seems odd that there are a rash of suicide books, but it is important to talk about it, and bring it out. We need to allow people to have a safe place to explore suicide and such. I read in another review that the MC was against therapy and drugs, which broke my heart a bit. I really wish books would stop treating therapy and medical assistance for depression and anxiety as such an evil thing.

  13. Aylee

    Aiieeee, I can see why you say these kinds of books can be really hit or miss with people… I think it could potentially be a hit with me so long as HOPE plays a major theme. I guess I’ll have to try it out to see if it works for me!