Book Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye

Cynthia Hand – The Last Time We Say Goodbye

TW: Suicide

Alexis aka “Lex,” is not doing too well in the wake of her younger brother’s suicide. But then again, who would be “doing well” under those circumstances? Not many people I would assume.

But Lex isn’t just mourning Ty. No. Lex is hiding a secret from everyone she loves about Ty’s last day. And since then, she’s closed off from those who love her, including her ex-boyfriend, Steven.

And then, perhaps prompted  by guilt, (although it’s probably in combination with grief), Lex starts feeling Ty’s presence in her house and in Ty’s room. Not only is she feeling his presence, she’s seeing him too. And smelling him, or at least, the remnants of his wafting cologne. In addition to seeing Ty, Lex begins to notice things around the house going missing.

As if this mystery isn’t enough, Lex is dealing with her mother who is still reeling from her son’s suicide. And after he left his wife and two kids for a younger woman, Lex’s relationship with her dad is anything but okay.

But I won’t lie. This isn’t a science-fiction type of book. It’s not a mystery either. Not in the larger sense of the word/genre anyway. Not to completely spoil the book, but yes, Ty is really dead. No, Lex doesn’t find a way to bring him back.

But that’s mostly why I enjoyed this book, despite the topic. Death leaves us looking for answers no matter how old or young  a person is. Even if we had warning or time for “closure” (yeah, using quotes there because do you ever really achieve closure?). But death is especially jarring if we have no warning of it at all.

If you’re looking for a story with a huge plot twist, this isn’t it. Instead what you’ll find here is a truly raw and gripping tale about to how to conceive of moving on when someone you love is gone forever. How to accept that your life is never going to be the same as it once was. And finally, coming to grips with knowing that no matter what you had done differently that hour, that second, that day, that week, that sometimes, while not for the lack of trying, you simply couldn’t have done anything.

4/5 stars.

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