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The Last Thing You Said
     

The Last Thing You Said

4.8 5
by Sara Biren
 

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Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic

Overview

Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.

Editorial Reviews

author of THE GIRL WHO FELL. S.M. Parker

"This is a brave debut, a brave look at the raw, messy, confusing bits of young love"
author of THE ONE THING Marci Lyn Curtis

"A beautiful, gut-wrenching story about the complexities of grief and the saving grace of family, friendship, and love. Brave, raw, and exquisitely written."
Booklist

"Biren’s tender story aches as the teens and their families try to put the pieces of their lives together again and find a way to heal... The compelling story will leave readers feeling the characters’ pain and cheering for them at the same time—and looking forward to more from this author."
VOYA, April 2017 (Vol. 40, No. 1) - Erin Segreto
Ever since last summer, Lucy and Ben have done everything they can to avoid each other. Those carefree months of flirting by the lake, getting close, and finally telling each other how they feel are long gone. Trixie’s sudden death is a constant reminder of the chance they lost and the friend and sister they will never get back. Overwhelming grief turns Ben against his family as he finds escape in drinking, partying, and a series of girls who are completely wrong for him. Lucy tries to forget everything that has happened and give more of herself to her family’s restaurant. A new boy in town, combined with seeing Ben every week at the dining counter, does not make it any easier. Now that a year has gone by and the anniversary of Trixie’s death approaches, Lucy and Ben’s grief draws them together, no matter what they try to do to deny it. This summer may be the summer that their healing brings them closer than ever before. The Last Thing You Said is a multilayered story combining love, loss, grief, friendship, renewal, and hope. This is a cathartic read for anyone who has lost a loved one. Each of the characters deals with Trixie’s death in his or her own way. Ben’s binge drinking after his sister’s death is a realistic part of the story, given the trauma he has experienced and his previous social drinking with other teens. Readers may disagree with Lucy’s brief and nondescript sexual encounter with new boy Simon, as it does nothing to further the plot or character development, but this debut novel is a story of first love and its incredible all-encompassing power to steer one’s choices. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Nicholas Sparks will enjoy this book. Reviewer: Erin Segreto; Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
01/01/2017
Gr 9 Up—When the pain is too much, sometimes you have to give it away. So it is for Ben and Lucy, who were on the verge of something special when Ben's sister, Trixie, who was also Lucy's best friend, died unexpectedly. The day of Trixie's funeral, Ben lashed out at Lucy, and the two of them have been finding ways to hurt each other in the months since. They can neither avoid each other in their small resort town nor ignore the lingering feelings they have for each other despite dating other people. As both begin to move beyond their own grief, they are drawn back together. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick's books will find much to love in this emotional romance. The inclusion of Ben's point of view is effective and sets the novel apart in a sea of stories with one-sided pining. The setting, a small Minnesota town, is fully realized and gives added depth to the characterizations as well. However, the appropriation of an Inuit cultural practice, inuksuk, as a symbol for the two white teens' relationship is a poor choice. VERDICT Cultural appropriation mars an otherwise promising debut that's recommended for libraries with a high demand for romance.—Elizabeth Saxton, Tiffin, OH
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2017-01-17
The first summer after Trixie's death is a hard one for all the families who knew her, especially for her best friend, Lucy, and Trixie's brother, Ben.Though they were close when Trixie was alive, now that she's gone they can't seem to find a way to be together that doesn't hurt. So the two white teens try to stay away from each other. But that's not easy in their small Minnesota town, especially when they both work for the same family at a lakeside resort. Will they ever be able to find their way back to the comfort and love that existed between them before a bad case of survivors' guilt made everything inescapably sad? Lucy's cute new neighbor and Ben's habit of using girls to distract him from his feelings make the situation even more complicated. Biren's debut novel offers a tender look at a particular moment in the lives of two teens, a moment that feels real and uncontrived. Her book begins after the tragedy, and Biren proves deft at filling in the back story without overshadowing the problems of the present. New friends and young cousins provide some levity and comic relief that work well against the backdrop of raw emotion. The best kind of tragic love story. (Fiction. 15-18)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781683350668
Publisher:
ABRAMS
Publication date:
04/04/2017
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
174,850
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author

Sara Biren earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and has had several short stories published in literary journals. Sara established Stubby Pencil Critique and Editing Services and is a member of MNYA Writers, a critique group of YA writers in the Twin Cities. She is a member of SCBWI, the YA Buccaneers, and the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. She lives outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and two children. The Last Thing You Said is her debut novel. www.sarabiren.com

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The Last Thing You Said 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Alyssa75 30 days ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren Publisher: Amulet Books Publication Date: April 4, 2017 Rating: 4 stars Source: ARC sent by a fellow blogger Summary (from Goodreads): Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other. What I Liked: YA contemporary isn't usually my thing, and I'd not heard of this book until a few months before its publication. I did a trade with a blogger, and I didn't really need this book, but I wanted to help her with a specific collection of hers, and so I chose this book to receive. I started reading and was a little wary of the story, but I quickly fell in love. Almost a year ago, Trixie (Ben's younger sister and Lucy's best friend) died, when she was swimming in the lake and her heart gave out. On that day, Ben and Lucy were about to express their feelings for each other. Everything changed, and things were said, and Ben and Lucy never became a couple. They stopped talking, and almost a year later, things are awkward and painful between them. But they can't avoid each other all summer, given that their small lake town is small, and Lucy babysits Ben's five-year-old cousin. It's been almost a year, but Ben and Lucy's connection hasn't diminished, even if they have changed so much. When I started reading this book, I began to feel a little unsure of it. Ben has a girlfriend, and Lucy starts to show interest in a new summer renter. But it's painfully obvious that Ben and Lucy never got over each other, and still care about each other. They never dated, but they loved each other for years, and that wasn't going to go away. Ben "dates" girls and dumps them just as quickly, as part of some sort of weird coping mechanism. And Lucy... Lucy starts to hang out with Simon the renter at first to show Ben that she wasn't thinking about him, but then because Simon was actually a decent guy. So I ended up not minding the romance being this way at all. Given that Ben and Lucy technically never dated, they don't owe each other anything - especially with how things ended between them. Ben was an incredibly huge jerk who lashed out, and Lucy wasn't having it. The two of them have a valley of heartbreak between them, for two people that never dated. This whole book is filled with a lot of pain and hurt and angst, and I actually really loved this. It broke my heart, seeing Lucy and Ben skirt around each other and avoid each other, and then snap at each other when they did interact. But the sheer amount of emotion that poured out of this story was staggering, and so well-written. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
BlessedX5 3 months ago
This book was beautiful and I read it in two sittings. It is a story of overwhelming grief and first love. I found it very believable and I connected to the characters, having lost my mother and knowing how walking through that first year was excruciating. Ben and Lucy react to losing Trixie in different ways and I found both characters very real and understandable. I enjoyed reading from both Lucy's and Ben's perspectives and it made it easier to understand and connect to each character. My very favorite character was Hannah. I felt she was so understanding and a big person who had a genuine love for Lucy. * I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
YoungMensanBookParade 4 months ago
Sara Biren’s The Last Thing You Said unfolds the relationship between two teens, Lucy and Ben, and their struggle to come to terms with the death of Trixie, Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister. Despite a large falling out, Ben and Lucy seem to be permanently tied together, never able to escape one another— or their feelings. Filled with summer flings and good old fashioned teenage rebellion, The Last Thing You Said is a heart-wrenching YA novel that will have readers engaged until the last page. One of the strongest aspects of the novel is character development. Since the story is told from both Lucy and Ben’s perspectives, the reader intimately understands their thoughts and emotions. Flashbacks are strewn throughout the book, creating another layer of reality and understanding of the characters. Supporting characters— such as Hannah, Lucy’s friend,— are also as idiosyncratic and dynamic as the protagonists. The only difficulty I had with this book was immersing myself in it. In the beginning, the characters are a bit flat and the story seems to be another retelling of teen drama and loss. However, as the novel progressed, I began to become more attached to the characters, and the events seemed to flow at a better pace. Ultimately, The Last Thing You Said extends deeper than a teen romance novel: it deals with issues such as grief, family tension, and social stress through the eyes of teenagers. Being a teenager is a unique time of life, a limited space with new responsibilities and restrained freedom. Although it is a love story that is somewhat idealistic, this novel does not shy away from the grittier aspects of being a teenager. Since this novel is grounded in the reality (be warned it has some mature content), this is a good novel for teenagers 14 years and older. Lauren A., age 16, Lone Star Mensa
etoile1996 4 months ago
lucy and ben had always been connected by trixie. she was lucy's best friend. she was ben's little sister. they'd all grown up together in their small resort town on minnesota's halcyon lake. so when trixie's heart gave out on a routine swim they had no idea how to process that kind of grief. lucy had loved ben forever. but since trixie died it was as if he only knew how to cause her pain. she didn't understand his anger or his need to hurt her. in the year since her death there had been a thousand small cuts. starting with what he said to her on the day of her funeral. what he said was actually pretty unforgivable. and ben would take it back if he knew how. he hated hurting lucy. except that every time he saw her he'd think how she was here and trixie wasn't. and he'd think if he hadn't been thinking of lucy. of how her skin felt when it brushed against his. of how he wanted to run his fingers through her hair and caress the freckles dusting her cheek. of how he loved her and wanted to kiss her and be with her. and maybe, just maybe, if he hadn't been so focused on thoughts like that, maybe his sister would still be here. and maybe everything was his fault. but it's easier to blame someone else, and lucy is the only other person he can blame. and the thing is, she is the only person he can blame who is strong enough to take it. she is the only person he can treat so badly that will still forgive him and love him in the end. and now that the anniversary of trixie's death is approaching, maybe it's time that he stop hating lucy and stop hating himself and stop hating the fact that his sister is dead. maybe if he accepts her death. accepts that it was something that could not have been avoided. she had a heart condition and it would have given out at some point, whether or not ben was there to stop it. the last thing you said is a story about loss and heartbreak and grief. about how even when things are broken beyond measure they can be put back together again, you just have to accept the differences. lucy and ben's story is beautiful and sad. they both make a lot of stupid choices. they're doing their best to survive, because the only way forward is to take it one day at a time. and maybe they're done with all the hurting and are ready to start healing. sara biren's debut is a powerful exploration of grief and how the experience of loss at such a young age can be devastating and raw and painful. **the last thing you said will publish on april 4, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/abrams kids (amulet books) in exchange for my honest review.
book_junkee 4 months ago
I loved the cover on this book and the synopsis intrigued me, so I was eager to get into it. First off, I loved the dual POV. Getting Lucy and Ben's side of things made things interesting. And mildly irritating too. Lucy is lovely. Her grief is palpable. Ben made it hard to root for him. He's quite the jerk most of the time, but I wanted them to get back on track so badly. Oh and Hannah was the best. The plot is a bit slow and the characters do infuriating things {a lot a lot a lot of back and forth and mostly from Ben}, but I really enjoyed this story. I wish we would have gotten a bit more at the ending, but somehow it all worked. One thing that did bother me was that it seemed that neither of them apologized. I don't know if I missed that, but after everything they said to each other, it felt a bit lacking. **Huge thanks to Amulet for sending me a finished copy free of charge**
SMParker 4 months ago
Sara Biren’s debut is a beautiful look at the enduring power of first love and how two teens must reach through the murky waters of grief to reconnect. The whole story is peppered with beautiful quotes and my favorite will stay with me for a long time: “It’s a good day to have a good day.” I loved how Biren portrayed love as a brave act—because it is such a brave act—and how she explored the courage it takes to trust in romantic love after losing a beloved friend. This is a brave debut, a brave look at the raw, messy, confusing bits of young love.