Published by Amulet Books on April 4th 2017
Genres: young adult, contemporary
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Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.
I really, really enjoyed The Last Thing You Said. I don’t rarely read books about grief, because I just don’t handle the topic well. I’m well and truly aware of my mortality to the point that I almost have a phobia of dying. It makes me have panic attacks sometimes. But once in a while I come across a book with grief as a theme that I really want to read. Last year is was Second Chance Summer, and this year it’s The Last Thing You Said. SCS is still my favorite because I just really related to the characters and story, plus it was about someone dying from cancer and I’ve been there so it was very real and cathartic for me, but this book, about losing a best friend, and in turn, a potential boyfriend and a secondary family you were really close to, was almost just as real.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to like The Last Thing You Said at first because the book was a bit of a slow starter for me and I didn’t get invested right away. I just wasn’t feeling an emotional connection to the characters. But I did like the writing from the get-go, and I always love a good lake, summer vacation setting, so that’s why I kept reading.
I’ve never had a best friend like Lucy had in Trixie, so I can’t imagine what losing someone you are close to like that at a young age is like. I can sort of relate because my grandmother was my BFF and I lost her in my twenties, but it’s just different. They did everything together. And to actually witness her death…that’s just something you will never recover from. TLTYS is the story of the aftermath of losing Trixie–for Lucy, for her brother Ben, and for everyone who knew her and loved her.
The one thing that didn’t work for me was how absolutely terrible Lucy and Ben’s parents were, and how neglectful and hateful they were to their children. Your teenage daughter’s only day off from work is Monday, and you want her to pick up a shift at the cafe you own, making her work seven days a week? Are you fucking kidding me? She’s a teenager and it’s summer vacation. Why would you want your kid to work seven days a week? Hire someone else, for chrissakes! Ben’s father had been drowning his sorrows in alcohol to deal with the grief of his daughter so when Ben drinks a few times, his parents call him out and embarrass him at dinner in an expensive restaurant. Like, that’s not even CLOSE to okay. Lucy’s mother was the absolute worst, and she didn’t even come close to making her treatment of her daughter right by the end of the book. And it was frustrating.
The romance in this book was super sweet, but the way Lucy used the boy next door kind of frustrated me as well. And it’s not like she didn’t know what she wanted from the very beginning. She wanted Ben, and she was in denial about it. Sometimes, though, I have to remember that I am an adult, and a teen may not figure out these things as quickly as as adult would. THESE BOOKS ARE NOT WRITTEN WITH YOU IN MIND, KARA.
I definitely recommend this one if you are a fan of Sarah Dessen and/or Morgan Matson.