Even if you think you have a high tolerance for gut-wrenching fiction, the tragedy may knock you flat. Still, reading The Last Time We Say Goodbye feels like exploring a forest after it's been decimated by wildfire. You will see new shoots sprouting where you least expect them…Hand spin[s] heartbreak into [a mystery] that remain[s] realistically, uncomfortably unsolved. Readers requiring total resolution may want to steer clear. But braver souls, teenagers and adults alike, will be rewarded…The payoff may not be particularly sweet…but it is hard-earned and life affirming, which is infinitely more rewarding.
In the tradition of Thirteen Reasons Why and All the Bright Places, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a deeply affecting novel that will change the way you look at life and death.
From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand comes a stunning, heart-wrenching novel of love and loss, which ALA Booklist called "both shatteringly painful and bright with life and hope" in a starred review.
Since her brother, Tyler, committed suicide, Lex has been trying to keep her grief locked away, and to forget about what happened that night. But as she starts putting her life, her family, and her friendships back together, Lex is haunted by a secret she hasn't told anyone—a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.
Hand (the Unearthly trilogy) shifts to realistic fiction with the story of Lexie, a math star and unashamed nerd whose biggest problems are the aftereffects of her parents’ divorce and wondering whether she’ll get into MIT. Then her younger brother, Ty, commits suicide. When the book opens, seven weeks after Ty’s death, Lexie’s grades have slipped, she has broken up with her boyfriend, and she feels like she might be going crazy. During the two-month span over which the novel is set, Lexie sees a therapist (reluctantly), reunites with an old friend, withstands another suicide in her Nebraska high school, and learns more about what Ty was thinking. Hand’s writing can be stiff, and Lexie’s ex-boyfriend, Steven, is a too-perfect cipher, but she persuasively conveys the aftermath of suicide and the ways those left behind struggle with grief, anger, and guilt. Although Lexie’s movement from paralysis to possibility is a little quick, her range of emotions is believable, and Hand is effective at showing how guilt can impede one’s ability to move through tragedy. Ages 13–up. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown. (Feb.)
A quietly powerful, emotionally complex novel that will echo with readers long after it is finished. Both shatteringly painful and bright with life and hope.
Reading The Last Time We Say Goodbye feels like exploring a forest after it’s been decimated by wildfire. You will see new shoots sprouting where you least expect them.
Gr 8 Up—For Lex, since her brother committed suicide, questions about their last goodbye have haunted her. Filled with regret, she ponders their last words and not being able to show him how much she loved him while he was still alive. The narrative unravels in perfect pacing, drawing readers into this emotional story. With a rocky home life in a small town in Nebraska, Lex begins pulling away from her friends, breaks up with her boyfriend, and struggles with life in general. When her therapist, Dave, assigns her the task of writing down her thoughts in a journal, flashbacks of the siblings' relationship and the protagonist's interactions with their parents fill in the gaps. Readers will be drawn in by the even pacing, the heavy moments never overwhelming the teen's story. Raw, emotional, and gripping, this book is Hand's first realistic fiction title, and fans of her popular "Unearthly" series (HarperCollins) will follow her genre change willingly. Libraries should jump at having this book, not only because of the author's previous work, but because it is an excellent and thoughtful exploration of grief.—Stephanie Charlefour, Wixom Public Library, MI
After her younger brother's suicide, ordinarily rational Alexis starts seeing her younger brother's ghost.Seven weeks after Ty shot himself with a hunting rifle, Alexis' mom announces she's seen him in the house. Alexis, a math student with aspirations of attending MIT, is skeptical but soon sees visions of her own. Alexis watches Ty die in recurring dreams, reluctantly relives firsts and lasts in a journal suggested by her therapist, and tries to stay strong for her mom, who is drinking to cope and certain that her own life is over. Alexis herself hasn't cried since her brother's death. Instead, moments of intense emotion open what Alexis powerfully describes as a "hole in my chest." The hauntings here are more emotional than paranormal, and Alexis' journey primarily entails reconnecting with estranged friends and family and slowly moving on. The characters involved are many—a childhood friend-turned-occultist stoner, Alexis' emotionally absent father and Ty's last girlfriend, to name a few—but each storyline is distinctly important and carefully woven in. Details of Ty's last days, Alexis' sense of guilt and the incident itself are revealed slowly and are often unexpected but always believable. Evocative and insightful. (Fiction. 14-18)