Saturday, February 7, 2015

*Book Review* The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published by Harper Teen
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Format: E-Book, 400 pages
Source: Edelweiss/Harper Collins

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.

"There's death all around us. Everywhere we look. 1.8 million kill themselves every second. We just don't pay attention. Until we do."

I have to say that Cynthia Hand is a brilliant writer. She writes realistic fiction in ways that cut you to the bone and leave you emotionally drained. Death and grief has been a topic that has shattered me into a million pieces since I lost my Dad last June to cancer. I was a bit hesitant in reading this book because I knew that I would be a literal mess by the time I was finished reading it.

I was right. I couldn't stop the waterworks from happening even if I wanted to. Hand doesn't hold anything back, nor should she when telling the story of 18-year old Alexis Riggs. Lexi is a brilliant student who loves classical music and mathematics. She has friends, Beaker, Eleanor, and Steven, who are just as smart as she is. She fully intends on going to MIT after graduation and has her sights on class valedictorian. She has a younger brother, Tyler, who is a amazing basketball player, and has a beautiful girlfriend.

But, she also has her issues. Tyler is showing real signs of deep, dark depression. Her father is a liar, cheating, bastard who ran away and left his family behind like they were so much trash to toss away for a newer younger model. Lexi really doesn't have the desire or need to forgive her father for what he did to their family, especially Lexi's mother who struggles each and every day.

Then comes the ignored text message, a post-it note left for her mother, a letter to Tyler's girlfriend, and Tyler taking his own life while everyone else was busy with their lives. As Lexi's struggles to understand what happened with Tyler and why, readers find themselves on a roller coaster ride of emotions as Lexi come to terms with her grief, the loss of her family unit, and her struggles to understand if she could have done anything differently in order to save a brother she promised to be there for no matter what.

What this book does extremely well, without covering up the horrible parts, is show how survivors deal with not only their grief, but the inability to pick up and move on. It shows that Tyler was an unhappy camper for a very long time before ending his own life. The story is heartbreaking. You can't get away from that fact. If you are one who doesn't like reading books about suicide, loss, guilt, and grief, perhaps this book isn't for you. Writing about suicide is a tough business. Understanding that the author experienced a similair loss herself, gives the story that much more credence.

I agree with the author on several points. First, please stop asking a grieving family member if there is anything you can do for them, when you have absolutely no intention of following through. Second, stop saying you'll be there for me if I want to talk, and then give me a cold shoulder, or treat me as though I will jump down your throat if you say the wrong thing to me. If you mean what you say, then call the grieving loved one and ask them out for coffee, or lunch. Send them a card that will make them smile and laugh if only for one moment. Ask them if they need help around the house, perhaps drop by a meal from time to time. Just don't treat us as yesterdays news, or that we are now spoiled goods who needs to be ignored.

As our family and Lexi's learned, the first week is filled with those who genuinely seemed to care about our loss. The next week, and the week after that, the phone calls stopped, people moved on with their lives, friendships became cold or shattered, and we were left struggling to move on. I could totally relate to Lexi's desire to shield herself, even from her best friends.

The Last Time We Same Goodbye is book that everyone should read if they've experienced loss of a loved one. If you know of someone who has found themselves in deep, dark depression and is thinking about suicide as an ending, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255.

Here are some links that I've found after reading this book. I wish they were provided by the author and publisher, but that doesn't take away my like for this story.

How to Help Someone who is Suicidal

**I received this book for free from (Harper Teen) via (Edelweiss) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**


  1. I loved this book so much. It was very real and so well done. I *sobbed* at the end. Great review!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

    1. Thanks Kate! I appreciate the comment and you stopping by!