“The Last Time We Say Goodbye” by Cynthia Hand
4 out of 5 stars.
Lexie’s world is shattered when she learns that her brother committed suicide. How could she not have seen it coming? How could she, Tyler’s sister, not understand that he wasn’t okay? No amount of dwelling on the ifs or whys can change what happened that night in her family’s garage, and it is time to pick up the pieces of what’s left of her life. But healing is so much easier said than done…
After she starts seeing a therapist, Lex begins to think about the time leading up to Tyler’s death, and all of the ifs in her life. Could she have saved Tyler? Maybe if she had known what he was going to do that day she could have talked to him, stopped him. Would her life be different now if she had answered Tyler’s text that night? The past is a painful thing to remember, and as Lexie travels a rocky road to healing, she discovers that all of the anger and hurt over Tyler’s death and her parents’ broken relationship are slowly suffocating her. Even the way she ended things with Steven haunts her waking hours. Hope and healing seem so far away when everything appears to be broken, and Lexie begins to wonders if life can ever be good again after so much pain?
“The Last Time We Say Goodbye” was an extremely emotional book for me. Suicide is very heavy topic and so the content of this book was a bit weightier than what I am used to reading; suicide is not uncommon these days, and that truth makes this book all the more heartbreaking. Despite such a heavy topic to write a book around, I felt that Cynthia did a fantastic job of taking Lexie’s character from being consumed by her pain and sorrow to a girl who was growing as a person, and who wanted to live her life instead of hiding away from everyone and everything. It was a rough but beautiful journey that Cynthia took me on, and I loved seeing Lex grow into a more confident and emotionally stable person.
Lexie was a slightly abrasive character at first. She had been through so much, even before her brother’s death, and I could understand why she was such a prickly girl. Cynthia Hand did a fantastic job of writing a character who was stuck in her sorrow and pain, and was unable to find a way out of it. I didn’t necessarily cry during the first hundred pages since Lex wasn’t a crier or a super “emotional” character; she was more of a matter-of-fact person than a feeling one during the first part of this book, but I could still feel for her. She hurt way down deep, and it took a while for me as a reader to see the depth of her sadness and how buried beneath it she was. I hurt for her from the start, but it took until about the halfway point in this book for her to start remembering things that began to hit me quite hard. I haven’t read a book or perspective like this in a long time, and I hurt for Lexie and all that she had been through.
Another thing that really got me concerning Lex’s character was how she shut practically everyone out of her life. She distanced herself from her good friends who cared about her, she and her dad were not on good terms, her mom had checked out after Tyler’s death, and she had broken up with her boyfriend. I think that might have been on of the hardest parts about “The Last Time We Say Goodbye” for me, how Lexie just closed in on herself so she wouldn’t get hurt. Her doing that, though, was what was stunting her healing and making her hurt even more, and it was so sad to see that!
Beyond the sadness and pain, Lexie really grew on me. I was cheering for her during this book and I wanted to see her thrive. Cynthia Hand did a great job of slowly making Lex progress as a character in a more realistic way, and I loved where she ended up by the last few pages of “The Last Time We Say Goodbye.” Lexie wasn’t completely healed by the end of this book, but she was on the road to recovery and was starting to live again by letting people like Damian and Steven back into her life.
Damian had a smaller part in this book, but I ended up really liking his and Lexie’s friendship. I can’t really tell you any more because I don’t want to spoil something that happens towards the end, but I thought that Damian was a really great addition to this book and my heart hurt for him in this book.
Steven was a character who I can acknowledge as being a really good guy, but I just did not connect with him. He was a super sweet and kind character, and the flashbacks of him and Lexie together were pretty cute. As cute as those scenes were, he was still not in this book enough for me to get attached to him. I wish that Lex and Steven had spent more time together in the present, or that Cynthia had written a few more scenes with them from before Tyler’s death; I really wanted to get to know him better, but there just wasn’t enough for me to feel attached to his character. I am okay with how it was done and Steven was a sweet boy, I just was not all that attached to him.
“The Last Time Say Goodbye” was a beautiful and heartbreaking story and it hit me in the heart multiple times. Cynthia did an amazing job of taking this story from being hopeless and broken to become a book about hope and strength. It was lovely and I was so happy with where Lexie ended up by the final chapter. I will warn you to prepare for the some ugly crying during the last chapter, but that is nothing compared to the ugly sobs that will come from you when you read Cynthia’s Author’s Note. I knew that it was coming, but it still hit me really hard.
I so admire Cynthia Hand for what she endured during her college years, but even more, I admire her for how brave she was to decide to write this book. “The Last Time We Say Goodbye” was a lovely book, and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind the truth and a good cry. Bravo, Cynthia!