There’s death all around us. Everywhere we look. 1.8 people kill themselves every second.
We just don’t pay attention. Until we do.
The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a heartfelt, thought-provoking, emotional read from Cynthia Hand. I knew once I finished this book that I wouldn’t be forgetting it any time soon. It’s the type of book that stays with you – I may not have necessarily LOVED it, but it’s a gut-wrenching read with a powerful story that should not be missed!
This is going to sound trite, I suppose, but you never know when it’s going to be the last time. That you hug someone. That you kiss. That you say goodbye.
Alexis Riggs is numb. Ever since her brother, Tyler, committed suicide, Lex has bottled up her emotions – especially her grief – and is going through the motions of her senior year of high school. She’s haunted by the night Ty committed suicide, questioning herself and feeling guilty about whether there was something she could have done to prevent it. Cynthia Hand portrayed her character fantastically – I could feel Lex’s heartache, how much she loved her brother, how much she misses him every day. I could also feel how angry Lex was at Ty for leaving her and her mother alone, leaving them to become shells of themselves.
Lex tries to keep her emotions bottled up, but she’s asked by her therapist to write in a journal. She’s reluctant and not at all impressed by this method of coping, but she does manage to write. She vents her feelings, some flashbacks of her and her brother, and anything else on her mind. Lex dreams of Ty almost every night, and each dream ends with Ty’s death. It’s through these dreams and the occasional flashback that we get to know the kind of person Ty was. He was the kind of person no one ever expected to kill himself – no one ever knew the pain he hid within himself. I loved how Cynthia Hand was able to create such presence in Ty’s character. Even though he’s no longer alive, he’s still very much a part of the story.
Lex struggles day to day, not knowing if the hole in her heart from Ty’s death will ever heal. Her friends are there for her, but she isolates herself. But when she becomes reacquainted with an old childhood friend, Sadie, and Lex finds a letter from her brother to his ex-girlfriend Ashley, things slowly start to change. Lex has a goal now, to find Ashley and give her the letter. And through this goal, Lex pieces together Ty’s life – the struggles he had – right before he passed. And Lex starts to forgive – herself and Ty – and accept that her brother is gone.
The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a story about loss, grief, and acceptance. At its heart, it’s a story of family and friends, about accepting help when it’s offered, and not having to go through grief alone. Lex is surrounded by people who care and comes to realize that even though the hole in her heart from Ty’s death will always be there, she doesn’t have to let it consume her life. I adored this novel, how heartbreaking yet eye-opening it was. It’s not an easy read, but a deeply emotional, stunning one that I highly recommend.
Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.