Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Title: The Last Time We Say Goodbye
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
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.

This is where I admit that I’ve only read the first book in Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly trilogy (I know, bad Emilie), but when I heard about The Last Time We Say Goodbye I just knew that I had to read it. It sounded like the kind of story that I love and that would give me all the feels. And believe me when I say it did.

Lex thought she had her life figured out. Her family might not have been perfect, but she had one. She had friends who understood her, and a boyfriend she thought she might even love. But then she came home one day to find out her brother had killed himself. Now Lex had to find a way to get on with her life. But how do you do that when you’re holding on to a secret you haven’t told anyone, a secret that could have changed everything on the night her brother killed himself. As she tries to put the pieces back together, Lex becomes obsessed with understanding why her brother committed suicide, reliving every memory to try and find what she missed. But eventually, Lex is going to have to let go, even if it’s the hardest thing she ever does.

It seems like (or at least it does to me) there are a lot of books dealing with teen suicide coming out this year. Or at least there have been a fair amount that have come out in the last few weeks alone. And that’s not a bad thing. At all. It’s great that we’re talking about topics like this one and bringing ore attention to them since they have been relatively taboo within our society. And that’s where Cynthia Hand’s The Last Time We Say Goodbye comes in. It’s a book about teen suicide. But it’s not about the person who committed suicide, nor is it about what led the person to commit suicide. Well, in a way it kind of is. This story is about the aftermath of suicide, the people who are left behind. In this case, the sister who is trying to make sense of what led her brother to commit suicide, and finding a way to go on with her life from that point onwards. And that’s what this story is about: finding a way to cope with your grief and the fact that you probably won’t ever know why that person made that decision. That’s what I liked so much about The Last Time We Say Goodbye, that even though suicide is a crucial component of the story, that’s not really what the story revolves around (does that even make sense?). And of course, Cynthia Hand knows what she does. This story was fantastically written and at times very understated which is where a lot of the story’s power came. Because this was a powerful story. One that at times punched me right where it hurts. Especially that ending. The ending that I had trouble reading through all my tears. And a lot of that had to do with Lex and the way she is dealing with everything that is happening in her life.

Lex doesn’t understand why her brother committed suicide. No matter how she looks at it, she can’t figure out the reasons behind what he did. But that still means she has to find a way to get on with her life, to figure out where she goes from there. In a way, Lex was someone who was a little hard to connect to at first. She’s a very logical and mathematically-minded person and because of that, she almost comes across as a little closed-off emotionally. After everything that’s happened, her being closed off emotionally isn’t necessarily that surprising, but still. Eventually though, I very much warmed up to Lex. You find out more, that she’s struggling with so much in light of her brother’s suicide, that her way of dealing with it is to try to find a clear and logical explanation for what happened. She’s a mathematical person, so she’s looking for the equation that eventually equalled suicide, not that she’s going to find one. But I felt for Lex while I was reading. Seeing her struggle to come to terms with her brother’s death was at times very hard to watch. And again, that’s what ultimately made this story so powerful: seeing Lex’s who belief system come apart as she comes to terms with her new life. And what made my feelings hurt so much. But in a really, REALLY good way.

Cynthia Hand’s The Last Time We Say Goodbye was a powerful and emotional read. It’s one that left me in a puddle of my own tears, but I wouldn’t have asked for it to be any other way.

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