The Last Time We Say Goodbye

Cynthia Hand. HarperTeen, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-231847-3
Hand (the Unearthly trilogy) shifts to realistic fiction with the story of Lexie, a math star and unashamed nerd whose biggest problems are the aftereffects of her parents’ divorce and wondering whether she’ll get into MIT. Then her younger brother, Ty, commits suicide. When the book opens, seven weeks after Ty’s death, Lexie’s grades have slipped, she has broken up with her boyfriend, and she feels like she might be going crazy. During the two-month span over which the novel is set, Lexie sees a therapist (reluctantly), reunites with an old friend, withstands another suicide in her Nebraska high school, and learns more about what Ty was thinking. Hand’s writing can be stiff, and Lexie’s ex-boyfriend, Steven, is a too-perfect cipher, but she persuasively conveys the aftermath of suicide and the ways those left behind struggle with grief, anger, and guilt. Although Lexie’s movement from paralysis to possibility is a little quick, her range of emotions is believable, and Hand is effective at showing how guilt can impede one’s ability to move through tragedy. Ages 13–up. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/08/2014
Release date: 02/01/2015
Genre: Children's
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