Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand {review}

The Last Time We Say Goodbye
by Cynthia Hand
♦publisher: HarperTeen
♦release date: February 10th, 2015
♦hardcover, 400 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest review
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.

Review: As much as I loved Cynthia Hand’s debut paranormal series, and as much as I am not a contemporary fiction reader, I think that this is my favorite book of hers so far. So beautifully done but in a way that feels like a snapshot out of the life or a normal teen.  It’s an incredibly touching story that sends us reeling through a girl’s journey of grief, guilt, and trying to move on.

Alexis is in her senior year of high school, half-way to the graduation finish line when her life is turned upside down by her brother’s suicide.  Before, her greatest worry was getting into MIT’s elite mathematics program; now she’s faced with overbearing sympathy from those around her, a mother that is drinking her pain away, her absent father that she and Ty used to face together for their weekly awkward dinners, and an overwhelming guilt that she could have stopped her brother from taking his life. The story is told alternately through journal entries that her psychologist is requiring her to do, and in her first person perspective. I thought the journal entries were a perfect way to really get inside her head, interject backstory and important memories, and see how her character grows and heals through the months after Ty’s death.

All the character development really stood out for me.  Every one of them, even side characters, felt really genuine, a group of kids you might find in any high school. It showed how everyone had their own ways of dealing with grief, trying to be there for each other, and moving on.  Another thing I loved about this is that the romantic interest is not described as drop-dead-gorgeous, perfectly sculpted body and features with every girl in school after them…he’s smart, funny, a little awkward, real. Alexis writes how on their first kiss, their glasses collided :D. And Alexis herself, she’s snarky, understandably angry, brilliant, lulls herself to sleep by counting prime numbers. I really enjoyed all of these characters.  

There is a little bit of a ghostly vibe going on, as Alexis starts to see Ty everywhere, but is it real or is it her mind playing tricks? Cynthia Hand somehow manages to tackle this sensitive and all-too-real subject, while magically not giving us a story that feels all-out depressing.  With that said, I will admit that the last 20 pages, along with the author’s note at the end, had me crying buckets.

I loved this story from start to finish; it’s a touching, heartbreaking and, in the end, hopeful look at surviving grief and finding a way to heal. 

Find Cynthia Hand online: Website  •  Twitter  •  Facebook

  Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon


  1. Amazing review Becky. <3 So glad you loved this book :D I am curious about it. It sounds so sad. And it made you cry? Eeek. I'm not sure I want to read it, but I'm more curious about it now, hih. <3 Thank you for sharing about it sweetie :)

  2. I really, really neeed this book! Even if it may end up making me cry buckets as well, I just love the way Cynthia Hand writes her stories. There's just something touching and I'm sure this one with touch my heart forever. Hopefully I don't run out of tissues while reading this story. Lately, I seem to be very sensitive on sensitive subjects. Thanks for loving this story Becky! And sharing your honest thoughts! n_n.

  3. Lovely review! I really want to read this!

  4. ChristinaBookAddictJanuary 16, 2015 at 4:58 AM

    Fantastic review, Becky! You have me excited to pick up my copy of this book. Like you, I am a huge fan of Hand's Unearthly series, so I wasn't sure how this contemporary novel would be. It sounds really moving and the characters sound well rounded….looks like I'll need my tissues handy when I read it though. Thanks for the great review.

  5. Great review! Definitely makes me want to read the book :)

    I liked Unearthly but didn't read the rest of the series. I think I'd like this one much more.

  6. Oh my, so glad you enjoyed the book! I am very much looking forward to reading this.

  7. So glad you loved this one, Becky. I loved Hand's Unearthly series and can't wait to read this! I guess I'd better have some tissues at the ready for those last twenty pages!

  8. Oh this sounds like an amazing read! I have yet to read her UNEARTHLY series but lately I've been more into contemporary reads so I may just start with this one instead. Amazing review :)