The Last Time We Say Goodbye

400p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Harper. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062318473.
Gr 8 Up—For Lex, since her brother committed suicide, questions about their last goodbye have haunted her. Filled with regret, she ponders their last words and not being able to show him how much she loved him while he was still alive. The narrative unravels in perfect pacing, drawing readers into this emotional story. With a rocky home life in a small town in Nebraska, Lex begins pulling away from her friends, breaks up with her boyfriend, and struggles with life in general. When her therapist, Dave, assigns her the task of writing down her thoughts in a journal, flashbacks of the siblings' relationship and the protagonist's interactions with their parents fill in the gaps. Readers will be drawn in by the even pacing, the heavy moments never overwhelming the teen's story. Raw, emotional, and gripping, this book is Hand's first realistic fiction title, and fans of her popular "Unearthly" series (HarperCollins) will follow her genre change willingly. Libraries should jump at having this book, not only because of the author's previous work, but because it is an excellent and thoughtful exploration of grief.—Stephanie Charlefour, Wixom Public Library, MI
Lex's present-tense narration relates her struggles in the months following her brother's suicide; she wonders if she feels Tyler's presence. Interspersed past-tense journal entries reveal memories of Ty--and why Lex feels so guilty about his death. Lex's realistically portrayed grief (with many setbacks but also lots of support) doesn't need the possibly supernatural element for poignancy, but readers won't mind it.

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