Monday, 9 February 2015
Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: February 10th, 2015
Source: Publisher **I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
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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.
I am on a roll this year with the poignant, heart wrenching YA contemporaries. The Last Time We Say Goodbye hits its readers right where it counts. I think Hand did a superb job of realistically portraying Lex's struggles with her brothers suicide. As well as the effects of Tyler's(Lex's brothers) depression and possibly misdiagnosed mental illness.
Obviously The Last Time We Say Goodbye is not a happy book. As soon as I opened it and saw the dedication page I had a feeling that Hand was bringing her readers a pretty personal story. I'm not sure how much of herself she put into Lex, if any, but either way Lex's guilt over Tyler's suicide and her coming to terms with the fact that it wasn't her fault seemed pretty real. Lex feels like she could have prevented Tyler from killing himself. She's torn up and conflicted over her feelings. Lex is super intelligent, a numbers girl. It's all about logic with her. So her seeing a therapist that suggests she journals about her feelings seems a little silly to Lex. Her journal entries were my favourite part of the book. It showed Lex and Tyler's relationship. They had a strong sibling bond and I really appreciated getting to see how they were together. It brought some light into the story. Lex and Tyler were close. They teased and bickered like brothers and sisters do. Lex was able to show that Tyler was a happy kid through these entries, and that their family was a solid family at one time. When their dad left their mom for another women it really hit Tyler hard. It seemed like all he wanted to do was please their dad, and this was something that was unforgivable and truly started Tyler on a downward spiral. Obviously there was a lot going on inside Tyler's head, and a lot of the time a person can be a really good actor by not letting their family see how much they are struggling internally.
Loss hits us all very differently. Lex shut down and shut out her friends. It was hard for her to see the pity and sadness on their faces and in their voices. Lex's mom is also barely living. She goes to work and the rest of the time she's not totally coherent. They're both feeling Tyler's ghost haunting their day to day lives and it's something that Lex is trying to overcome. She feels like the guilt of ignoring his text will eventually eat her up. Lex feels like she could have prevented his death if she had just been there for him like she promised. Blame and guilt is a nasty thing to stew in. Especially in a horrible situation as this.
Lex has really inspiring story of growth. Once she starts to realize that only Tyler could help himself, her motivation comes back. Which she than piggy backs onto her mom. They both needed a push and Lex was able to show her mom that she still has a child left that loves her. Lex also realized that as hard as forgiveness is it's something that she needed to jump on the path to with her dad. Lex may have tried to push her friends and boyfriend away, but they continued to be there for her. Lex even found likeness with an old friend she'd lost touch with. It was awesome to see that Lex had some really strong friends in her life. They didn't give up on her. That really helped with her learning how to keep moving on.
There was a lot of moments that brought tears to my eyes. I've mentioned plenty of times, that my heart is black. But Hand's writing really made a dent in my emotions. Not only was Lex's emotional journey heart breaking, Hand was also able to put humor and sweet moments in with that heart break. A lot of the YA books I've read that focus on suicide do it through a romantic relationship. Which is fine, and is just as heart breaking. But with Lex losing her brother to suicide it was more hard hitting to me. She's 18, so losing her brother is somebody she's known her whole life. Tyler's death not only showed how Lex dealt with the loss, but also her parents. There's a stigma with suicide and how it seems to be downplayed when remembering the person. The person is considered selfish and the blame is put on them. It makes me sick and sad that people believe this. Tyler was ill and way to often suicide is the outcome from a mental illness, like depression. Hand does a fantastic job of showing this stigma. Lex can't stand the label she's given, the victim of suicide. Her brother died and no matter how he died he showed be shown respect and remembered as the person he was.
Hand's Unearthly trilogy is one my favourites. So upon hearing she had a contemporary book dealing with a very hard hitting topic piqued my interest. I loved her writing in Unearthly but there's a small part in my mind that thinks how can you go from paranormal to something so different in The Last Time We Say Goodbye? The answer is perfectly. I love when I get to see an author grow as a writer, and I believe that this is solid proof. The Last Time We Say Goodbye is an absolute beautiful story about loss and the struggles to over come it well trying to move forward in life. It's about learning that letting go doesn't mean forgetting and that it's alright to continue living your life. I highly, highly recommend picking up The Last Time We Say Goodbye as soon as you can get your hands on it. I'd also suggest having plenty of tissues at the ready.