Publisher's Note:  

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand comes a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

Since her brother, Tyler, committed suicide, Lex has been trying to keep her grief locked away, and to forget about what happened that night. But as she starts putting her life, her family, and her friendships back together, Lex is haunted by a secret she hasn't told anyone—a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

In the tradition of Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, Gayle Forman's If I Stay, and Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a thoughtful and deeply affecting novel that will change the way you look at life and death.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye

by Cynthia Hand

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Overall Review:  

I knew what I was getting into when I began this book. I knew it wasn't going to be the happiest book I read this week, but that was okay with me. This book deals with a subject that is a tender one for me:  suicide. Sadly, many teens are growing up knowing someone, or of someone, who committed suicide. Sometimes it's a close friend or relative; sometimes it's just a familiar name. All the same, awareness needs to be raised. This book does a spectacular job of telling how the aftermath of a teen suicide can be navigated by a family.

Lex, the teen protagonist in this compelling novel, is a smart girl with tons of potential. She is applying to colleges that have big names, and she seems to be going somewhere with her life, but something is holding her back--her brother, Tyler. I could tell that Ty and Lex weren't the closest of siblings, but they still loved each other deeply.  It seemed that Lex just didn't truly understand her brother, and she was never sure how to relate to him. The fact that Ty killed himself is hard enough, but Lex just can't wrap her mind around the why. It took me a while to figure out, but throughout this book we see glimpses of a therapist that Lex is seeing, and I realized that Lex isn't just telling this story to us, she is narrating it to her therapist.

This book deals with a tough subject, but it doesn't glamorize it in any way, which is a huge must in my opinion. After all, we don't want our teens to view suicide as a heroic thing, or even an option. It is a choice, just like anything else in life; one that damages hearts and affects so many people. This book gives readers a look at what a family goes through when a teen chooses to kill themselves. This book will start many good conversations, and hopefully educate readers, even though it is fiction.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  9 religious exclamations; 4 mild obscenities; 9 derogatory names; 4 scatological words; 7 anatomical terms; 1 offensive hand gesture; 6 F-Word derivatives.

Violence/Gore:  Doctors are mentioned to practice bleeding patients; a minor girl acknowledges her brother's death; a minor is mentioned to have killed himself with a hunting rifle, no detail is given at this point; this same minor is later detailed to have bled profusely on the garage floor where the act was committed, and to have been found by his family, neighbors; a minor tries to commit suicide by overdosing on pills; a girl thinks she sees her dead brother; a character kills a fish to eat and "bashes its head" to finish it off; two characters are chased by an animal in one brief scene, with implication of death of one of the characters; a teen girl has dreams about her dead brother and the ways he might die (car crash; drowning; breaking his neck; slitting his wrists); a minor punches classmate in anger; a teenager is mentioned to die in a drunk driving accident; a character hears of classmate committing suicide, no detail is given; a teen girl thinks about her brother committing suicide and how he did it; a character is attacked by an animal and is mentioned to be bleeding a lot and to die; two young characters are mentioned to be fighting and one suffers a bloody nose.

Sex/Nudity:  Two minors are mentioned to be dating and "spending an hour in the backseat" with each other, this is later acknowledged to be referring to sex; a minor couple who is dating kisses, this is mentioned several times and two of the times it is described "with tongue"; a minor girl refers to when she hangs out with her boyfriend and "messing around"; a teenage couple "make out" in one brief scene; a girl says she misses being kissed by her boyfriend; a girl refers to a boy as "hot"; a mother has a brief mature discussion about sex with her daughter and cautions her to be careful, suggest birth control and condoms; a teenage couple are mentioned to possibly be sexually active; a boy is referred to as "cheating" on his girlfriend.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Death, suicide, interpersonal relationships, personal crises, divorce, underage drinking, paranormal/ghosts mentioned.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Minors are depicted drinking and smoking in one scene; a minor is mentioned to hang with the "stoner" crowd; an adult woman drinks wine to relax; a minor girl is mentioned to have a "smoky" voice; a minor boy overdoses on pain pills; a crack addict is referred to; a girl finds her 12-year-old brother and his friend smoking stolen cigarettes; an adult woman drinks wine excessively.

Reviewed By Lydia
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