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Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Last Time
We Say Goodbye

Cynthia HAnd

Genre: YA ContemporaryTragedy
Hardback: 400 Pages
Publication: February 10, 2015
by Harper Teen

There's death all around us.
We just don't pay attention.
Until we do.

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.


The Last Time We Said Goodbye is so good and so very sad. I love when novels portray strong positive family relations, but it also makes me that much more sad when the family members lose a loved one and are working through their loss. Even more when the individual that was so loved decided to kill himself.

This is one of the realest, deepest, saddest novels that I've read. Lex's emotions are so genuine and from the heart that it tore apart my bleeding heart and ripped right through it over and over again. If I wasn't so busy feeling for Lex, I would have sobbed my eyes out. As it was, my heart bled for Lex and for Ty. I'm writing this review over a day after I read this novel, and my heart is still feeling all sorts of sad. And guess what, I still feel the urge to read this novel. It's going on my keepers shelf.

What made this novel connect to me on a more personal level is that I went through a major depressive episode during my junior year of high school. I can relate to how Ty goes through periods when he thinks everything's okay and the knowing that the darkness is coming and that it's going to keep on coming back. And his feeling that he's messed up and that he can't fix himself. During those dark days, the only thing that I felt like I could do was endure each waking moment, and I couldn't wait to sleep and not have to worry about anything. I did contemplate what would happen if I left the world. What got me through each day was the distant hope that everything would turn out better somewhere in the future. And life did get better. It was difficult, and it's still difficult today. Depression is something that I live with and that I choose to fight.

I can also sympathize with Lex. I have a brother who is two-and-a-half years younger than me—which is approximately the same age difference between Lex and Ty. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose my brother, but I know that I would be pretty devastated. I can relate to much of Lex and Ty's relationship from the funny brother to the awkwardness of talking relationships to the brother-sister squabbles. And ahhhh I seriously don't want to think about my brother dying much less killing himself. And that text that could have changed everything. And knowing that it may not have changed anything after all. I'd be torn apart if I were in Lex's shoes.

I was torn apart reading this novel.

Plotwise, Ty's suicide plays a large role in Lex's development. It's on her mind practically all the time. It's influenced some major decisions that she's made and goes on to make. She dreams about him, and no matter how terrible these dreams are, she embraces them because it gives her a connection with him. I do admit that these dreams are surreal and maybe a little fantastical, but I love the way they contribute to the plot—especially that last one. Oh, how it broke my poor little heart. I really wish we got to know Ty, and I really wish that we could turn back the clock and save him. And you know what? These feelings show how much Cynthia Hand has brought the characters and Lex's feelings to life.

That said, Ty's suicide isn't everything in this novel. At its heart, The Last Time We Said Goodbye is about learning to accept the grief and also that you can't allow yourself to take on all the blame for the death of a loved one. Suicide in particular is the choice that an individual makes. One text, one call, one cry of pain, may hold a lot of weight, but it won't necessarily change anything. Even if someone chooses not to commit suicide one day, he or she may commit suicide the next time. Choosing to live with depression, to reach out to someone for help, does benefit from having a social network upon which one can rely, but it also requires a serious attitude change and the will to face life's challenges head on.

I do feel like the romance and friendships weren't really well developed given that the love interest doesn't have much screen time. No one side character gets much consistent screen time other than Ty and the mom (and perhaps the dad). But I'm satisfied on the whole with how things play out. For one thing, it's always nice to see the romance take a backseat to other issues (because I'm a firm believer that, while romance may be important to an individual in love, romance isn't all there is to life). Secondly and lastly, there's no room for romance and friends on Lex's mind all things considered. She herself explains how she feels like she's been pulling away from everyone, and I can't fault her given everything she's going through. I would be on my way to becoming a hermit if I were Lex.

I seriously recommend this novel. It's genuine and beautiful and heartbreaking. It's a keeper for me. If you read it or have read it, please let me know what you think. I love this novel so much.

A review copy was provided by Harper Collins for review

Rating: 5 stars

  • N/A

  • Some explicit language
  • Making out
  • Talk of sex
  • Suicide

3 comments on "Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand"
  1. I have been eyeing this for a while. I may get it from my library next week. Awesome review!

    1. It's a fantastic book, one of my new favorites. I don't know why it took me this long to finally read it!! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  2. Good and sad is def a great description for this one


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