THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE by Cynthia Hand

Read this if you're in the mood for: realistic contemporary YA, character-driven, tearjerker, stand-alone, excellent supporting characters

Summary: 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.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand,
The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

Read this if you like:
TWENTY BOY SUMMER, Sarah Ockler
Just like in TWENTY BOY SUMMER, this book handles grief in a realistic, non-melodramatic, and not-overly-sentimental way. It tugs at your heartstrings because of the authenticity of the grieving process and the connection you feel to the main character.

UNEARTHLY, Cynthia Hand (trilogy)
The high quality of writing and the excellent characterization in the UNEARTHLY trilogy (which you also really, really should be reading if you haven't already) are also present in THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE.

The Rec: This is such a simple, wonderful book. It takes a subject (grief) that can so easily become overwrought and flowery, and presents it without pretension or hand-holding. It's about the complicated relationships between siblings, the fallout from divorce, the way the minutiae of your life changes after tragic events. Lex struggles with guilt, anger, and sadness. She watches her mother barely make it through every day. She resents her father for leaving their family. She's haunted by memories of her brother and wonders how well she really knew him. And she's paralyzed by the "what if"s that might have prevented Tyler from committing suicide.

One of the strongest parts of the book is the supporting characters. There's a murky delineation between Lex's life before and after Tyler committed suicide. She's purposefully distanced herself from her friends and has broken up with her boyfriend, but they're still in her life, struggling to reach her while still giving her space to adjust. She wavers between normalcy and the abnormal reality of being the girl whose brother killed himself. She reconnects with her neighbor, whose friendship with her faded years before, because they both have experienced loss.

Lex felt so real to me. She's a logical thinker, a practical person who loves math and understands the world in numbers and equations, so the incomprehensible, senseless aspects of her brother's death torment her and overwhelm her at times. When you read THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE, it's not just about grief, it's about Lex's grief, and the personal, intimate view of loss makes this a novel that will stay with you long after you're done reading. 

The Caveat: There seem to be a lot of suicide and grief-centric contemporary YA novels out there right now, but this one is definitely worth reading.

You should read this because: THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE is a beautifully written, bittersweet contemporary novel that handles grief and loss in an honest, relatable way.

Read this book!
THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE by Cynthia Hand (HarperTeen, February 2015)
Indiebound / B&N

Recommendation by: Donna