Jazzy Reviews: ‘The Last Time We Say Goodbye’
Jazzy is one of the most sophisticated young readers I know and she always stretches herself to read outside of her comfort zone. Her latest book has been, in her own words, ‘probably the hardest book I have ever reviewed’ and when you read her review you will know why. This book is so important – important for the teens who read it and see their life reflected in the words, and for the teens who read it and develop their empathy for those who have faced the struggles outlined in the story. Books which deal with ‘the big issues’ are for everyone. Young people understand that life is made up of light and of dark. They do not need to be shielded from tough topics, written about in an age appropriate way. The very best young adult authors are masters of weaving heart and soul into their words without going too far…they know when to pull back. ‘The Last Time We Say Goodbye’ is a perfect example of this…and Jazzy I’m so very pleased you have reviewed it for us. You can see all Jazzy’s other reviews by clicking on the tag ‘jazzy’s bookshelf’.
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This is probably the hardest book I have ever reviewed – and one of the most well-written.
Lex’s family is already complicated enough with her parents divorcing a few years back; but when Lex’s brother Ty took his life, her entire world took a drastic turn for the worse. Lex’s mother turns to alcohol and both mourn Ty’s loss miserably. Lex breaks up with her boyfriend and pretends nothing is wrong; but within, she is a complete wreck. Her mother makes her see a therapist, Dave, thinking she has done her a favour. When he stops persuading her to take antidepressants and Valium, he gives her a new task in the form of a black notebook. Can Lex learn to live in the present, or will she continue to grieve the past?
I don’t normally read sad books, but as soon as I started ‘The Last Time We Say Goodbye’ by Cynthia Hand I was completely taken. I felt emotionally attached to Lex and empathised with her pain. After reading this novel, I know that if I met her character in real life, it would be difficult to find the right words to say to her.
I discovered that a friendship’s true colours are shown in a time of need. For example, Lex’s friend Beaker wants her to be upset, so that she can be the “stellar bestie” who builds her broken friend back up. I also learned that even though grief is never-ending it is important not to give up hope for the future.
Ty had previously attempted the act with painkillers. Afterwards, Lex was committed to ensuring her brother’s safety; she went around the house confiscating all deadly items – razors, bullets from guns in the garage, pills and more – and locked them up in a container.
‘The Last Time We Say Goodbye’ is a story inspired by a real event: After the last chapter Cynthia reveals her brother also committed the same terrible act on himself. After reading and knowing what it must have been like for Lex, I felt great sadness for the author. Losing family to suicide would be incredibly hard, and I hope to never have to face the same pain in my own life. The dedication to Jeff takes on a new meaning.
This book has the occasional drug or sexual reference, and the central theme is emotionally draining and confronting. It takes a mature reader to empathise with what Lex is going through. Therefore, I recommend it to teenagers, aged 13+
Only the most amazing book would make me emotional and this novel certainly achieved just that. It was realistic and heartbreaking. I give ‘The Last Time We Say Goodbye’ five book-bolts out of five.
Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers Australia Pty Limited