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.The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on February 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, YA
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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.
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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