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The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand • Magan Reviews

book cover the last time we say goodbye cynthia hand, books about suicideThe Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand [twitter website]
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 400
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: suicide, loss of a brother, life after loss, counseling
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Lex’s brother committed suicide and she’s not entirely sure why. She wants answers she’ll never get; she wants more than his one-line-post-it-note on his bedroom mirror. Lex wants to go back to way things were before.

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The Last Time We Say Goodbye is going to be really difficult for me to review well. I wish I could draw a diagram for you that showed all of the emotions and feelings I experienced while slowly (because it’s like the best, most delicious meal you’ve ever had: it must be savored) worked through Lex’s story.

Lex’s life is divided into befores and afters:

Before when she was happy.
After her brother committed suicide.
Before when she knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life.
After when she’s lost touch with all of her best friends.
Before when she was sure she’d met her soul mate.
After when she broke things off with him because it’s just too much.

Lex’s mom is barely functioning; she goes to work, comes home, cries herself to sleep in Tyler’s room, rinses and repeats. When her mom swears she gets a whiff of his cologne, Lex blows her off. But then a few things start happening to Lex and she’s positive her therapist will prescribe her medication if she tells him she has seen Tyler’s ghost. Or that she’s noticed photographs have been removed from frames throughout the house. Surely this can’t be happening, right?

This was my first of Cynthia’s books and I have to say I’m just so incredibly in love with her storytelling. I’m an “issues” kind of girl when it comes to books so I’ve read a number of books that deal with a similar situation. But man, it felt like Cynthia really forced me into this world. Everything just felt so right with the pacing, the environment, the friendships, and Lex trying to figure out how to move forward. There’s an added element of Lex’s journal entries that her therapist forces her to write, and honestly, sometimes these kinds of things can feel jarring because they break up the story. It worked so, so well here. (Especially when everything really came full circle at the end. Cue the tears.)

The Last Time We Say Goodbye is heartbreaking and takes a good, long look at a family after the surprising loss of a son and brother. There are so many questions and so, so few answers. It’s less of an emphasis, however, on Tyler and the choice he made, and more about accepting his decision and how Lex and her mom move forward. Just in case you’re wondering if this is a ghost book, my answer would be no. It’s a very realistic adaptation of a grieving family with a very logical explanation for why these things are happening to Lex and her mom.

I caution you to prepare a continuous stretch of time for The Last Time We Say Goodbye. You won’t want to move an inch. And quite possibly, if you’re like me, you’ll be angry you haven’t read Cynthia’s work until now. Don’t worry — I’m off to correct this!

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March 11, 2015 - 11:14 am

Magan - Alexa, it really was. Cynthia did a brilliant job. My heart broke, but I think that’s because she wrote so, so well.

March 3, 2015 - 1:58 pm

Alexa S. - I loved The Last Time We Say Goodbye! It’s such a well-told tale, and I thought Hand handled grief, anger and moving on with such a deft hand. So thrilled to hear that you enjoyed it as much as I did!

February 28, 2015 - 9:00 am

It's a Wrap • Sayanara February (Best of February 2015) - […] Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand We Can Work It Out by Elizabeth Eulberg The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds […]

February 23, 2015 - 11:49 am

Magan - Hey Kelsey! You’re so welcome! If you’re looking to add a few “issues” books to your reading list, definitely also add All the Bright Places, too!

February 23, 2015 - 11:46 am

Kelsey - Thanks for reviewing/drawing attention to a book I might not otherwise have picked up. I don’t usually read a lot of “issues” books, but this one sounds well worth picking up.

February 23, 2015 - 11:18 am

Magan - Lori, I definitely did! SO glad to hear you’re a fan too! 🙂

February 23, 2015 - 11:18 am

Magan - Brianna, I completely agree. They’re SO hard to read, but they need to exist so people have something to relate to, to help them through. I greatly admire authors, such as Cynthia, who can take a topic so personal to them and share it with others.

February 22, 2015 - 10:42 pm

brianna - These issue books can be so difficult to read, but they’re so important to the conversations between tweens/teens and their parents.

February 22, 2015 - 6:49 am

Lori - I love this book so much! I’m happy to see that you did too.

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