Book Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye

17285330The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Series: Standalone

Published by Harper Teen on February 10, 2015

Genres: Contemporary, Death, Fiction, Love & Romance, Mental Health, Mystery, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult

Format: Audiobook (AMAZING BTW)

Pages: 386

Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

SYNOPSIS:

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.

**********************************************************************

RATINGS:

Critical Rating: ★★★★★

Entertainment Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

Plot: Slow to Medium Paced | Intruiging & Gripping | Intense | Fear For The Unpredictable Future

Characters: Painfully Raw | Broken & Barely Glued Together | Genuine & Imaginable | Heart Breaking | All Are Developed

World Building: Modern World | Realistic Portrayal of Suicide and It’s Affects | Day To Day Life

Writing: 1st Person | Mix of Normal Chapters and Diary Entries | Simply and Elegant | Important Messages | Highlight Worthy

**********************************************************************

*Trigger Warning for Depression, Mental Illness and Suicide. If you are sensitive to any of the topics above, PLEASE do not read this book. No book is worth damaging your physical/mental health!* 

MY REVIEW: 

My reaction after finishing The Last Time We Say Goodbye:

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I know I usually don’t lean towards contemporaries, but THIS is the reason why I still go into them with an open mind. I finished The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand about a week ago and despite the chaos of every day life, the story haunts me each and every night. Stunningly beautiful, achingly real, and oh so important, Lexi’s story is one that you will never forget.

“All the best things are like that, though, Lex, the most beautiful things. Part of the beauty comes from the fact that they’re short-lived.”

The most surprising things come unexpected and that was exactly what this book was. Unexpected. Unexpected but amazing. The synopsis for The Last Time We Say Goodbye seemed too generic, a story about someone near and dear to your heart committing suicide and the said person having to deal with the horrific aftermath. But that’s not what all this book is. Yes, there are big portions of the story revolving around Ty’s death but there are also plenty of smaller, many even more meaningful portions dedicated to Lexi, Lexi’s mom, Lexi’s dad, Steven and the rest of the characters.

You see, suicide is such a complicated thing that doesn’t only involve the person who committed suicide. It affects your friends and families of course, but it also affects everyone you have ever gotten to know. At Ty’s funeral, we see his entire high school; students, teachers, counsellors, coaches, receptionists, as well as all of other people who played a role in his life; his parents’ friends and families, his acquaintances, his childhood friends, basically his entire neighbourhood coming to say their last farewells. It is terrible, depressing, and even tabooed. But guess what? It’s real. It happens every day. It happens every minute. It happens every second. 

“There’s death all around us. Everywhere we look. 1.8 people kill themselves every second. We just don’t pay attention. Until we do.”

The way Cynthia Hand painted the picture, utilizing journal entries in addition to regular chapters helped enhance the overall atmosphere of the book. It was a smooth leeway into learning more about Ty; his childhood with Lexi, his first time winning a chess game, his first girlfriend, his first kiss. It was oh so tragic to see the walls of this sweet, kind boy crumble under the weight of the world. It was insanely cruel. Ty as a character was extremely well developed and thoroughly fleshed out. The way he was portrayed, seemingly happy on the outside but depressed deep down felt so real, and I couldn’t help but have silent tears streaming continuously down my face. His actions spoke louder than his words and though he desperately tried to show his struggles, there was no one left to save him but himself.

Lexi was one of the best female characters I have read from in a while. She was a refreshing math genius, one that could actually think for herself and act maturely. Though she was going through a tough time, there was no tantrum throwing or complaining each and every time she opened her mouth. She was reliable, honest, and wholeheartedly true to herself. Steven was another character that I absolutely adored. He always put Lexi’s health (both physical and mental) before his wishes, and never pressured her into doing anything she felt uncomfortable with. Their romance could have gone wrong in so many ways but alas, Hand managed to sweep me off the floor with how perfect it was. Romance was definitely not the priority but rather a character building tool that showed the readers just how much Lexi and Steven changed over time. As mentioned in the story, these two were perfect for each other for all the right reasons and I rooted for them until the very last page.

Believe it or not, Lexi’s whole family, not only her and her brother played a vital role in this story. We all know how rare it is for parents to be active participants in a YA novel, there are countless books I can name on the top of my heads that don’t even mention them. However, in The Last Time We Say Goodbye, not only were the parents mentioned, they were also three dimensional characters who had their own story to tell. Lexi’s mom suffered with alcoholism after Lexi’s dad left her and that pain in addition to Ty’s death made me truly ache for her in unimaginable ways. She was dealing with way too many difficult things at a time, yet like any good mother, she tried her best to be there for her distraught daughter. As for Lexi’s dad, I have to admit that it took some time for him to grow on me. In all honesty there is no legitimate excuse for his mistakes, but even the rough healing process of Lexi’s relationship with him was worth it at the end. 

“Forgiveness is tricky, Alexis, because in the end it’s more about you than it’s about the person who’s being forgiven”

The one thing that I will say about this book is that it is a slower paced story. There isn’t much going on at the surface but when you actually invest the time to really take a look, I guarantee you that you will be emotionally impacted. It seems too real to just be a tragic story, and it is. It’s the sad reality for a large percentage of families in our modern world. And regardless of whether you experienced it first hand or not, it is a story that needs to be told.

Plot wise, we have a bit of a mystery surrounding Ty’s death and his secretive past. After his death, Lexi manages to instinctively pick up some clues that he left behind in his room, the tree house, and with this friends. However, none of this is actually the main message that Cynthia Hand wants to get across. Rather, it is the fact that death is inevitable and that even when your loved ones passes away, they will always be in your heart. Just because you take a step forward doesn’t mean you are forgetting them, all it means is that you are holding on to a bit of hope left in your heart.

“Time passes. That’s the rule. No matter what happens, no matter how much it might feel like everything in your life has been frozen around one particular moment, time marches on.”

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Have you read The Last Time We Say Goodbye or are you planning to? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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Thanks for reading lovelies xoxo,

-Jenna <3-

Find me here!

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11 thoughts on “Book Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye

  1. Reg @ She Latitude says:

    Great review, Jenna! I love how you do your ratings. 😛

    It’s good to hear that this book is not just about dealing with the aftermath of suicide – I mean, obviously that’s a very real, very sad topic as well, but I sometimes feel like some YA novels go a bit too heavy on that and forget that there are many facets to a character beyond that. Also glad to hear that Lexi was one of the best female characters you’ve read in a while, and that the romance was more of a character-building tool rather than the main plot! That doesn’t happen often with YA contemporaries for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • FictionalNeverland says:

      I totally agree Reg ❤️ I felt as if The Last Time We Say Goodbye wasn’t too similar to other books dealing with mental illness and I really loved that. Sometimes it is hard to read about that topics such as suicide or death, but it is also one that needs to be discussed more openly.
      All of the characters were fantastic and so different from the typical YA tropes. The romance was definitely swoon worthy and realistic!

      And I am so glad you enjoy how I rate my books 😉 I try my best to separate my critical rating from my entertainment one.

      Like

      • Reg @ She Latitude says:

        Yeah, suicide/death are definitely very sensitive topics, and not all books get it right I feel. Glad this one seems to! 😛

        It’s a good idea to separate your critical rating and your entertainment one! It reminds me of the memes in Tumblr where someone would send you the name of a character and you basically rate your feelings towards them, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

    • FictionalNeverland says:

      Mental illness is something that can be really hard to read about 😔 I totally get why some people wouldn’t want to go out of their way to read them… Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy your next book ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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