Book review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
In Cynthia Hand’s The Last Time We Say Goodbye, high school senior Alexis is struggling to figure out how to go on in the aftermath of her brother Ty’s suicide. She’s going to therapy, refusing to take medication to help with the depression and panic attacks (more on this topic in my Sunday Reflections post), and keeping a journal. When her mother says she still feels Tyler in the house—that she smelled his cologne one night, out of nowhere—Alexis doesn’t think much of it. They’re grieving, after all, and feeling like a loved one is still around isn’t that uncommon. But when Alexis starts seeing flashes of Ty—in the mirror, in the backseat of the car—she starts to wonder if she’s hallucinating or seeing a ghost. She could talk to her therapist about this, but she doesn’t want to sound crazy. She’s alienated from her friends at the moment—they’re still trying to be there for her, especially her ex-boyfriend, Steven, but she just can’t deal with anything or anyone. Alexis tries to figure out if Ty is trying to give her some sort of message. As the weeks go by, Alexis confronts her future plans, family issues, and cautiously opens up to a few people about how she’s been feeling.
The grief, guilt, and pain permeate every second of this book. Despite my major issue with the problematic villainizing of medicine, I thought this book was profoundly moving and well-paced. Hand does not shy away from graphic description of Ty’s suicide and the immediate aftermath. The reconstructed day of Ty’s suicide was almost impossible for me to read. This is one of those books where I don’t want to give too much of the plot away. The way Lex has to navigate relationships new and old, has to cope with her guilt and grief, and has to find a way to move forward is achingly moving. By the end, I was sobbing. Highly recommended—just be ready with the Kleenex.
REVIEW COPY COURTESY OF EDELWEISS
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 2/10/2015
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
SLJ Blog Network