The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: Kindle E-Book
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Total Pages: 320
I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this impacted my opinion of this book or the review provided below.
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.
This book caught my eye for personal reasons. Having lost my best friend at a young age, I immediately connected to the characters before I read anything about them. Due to this, I also think I found this book sadder than I would have if I didn’t have this connection. I don’t think that it is written to intentionally be sad, but definitely dredged up old memories and feelings, thus making it quite sad for me. So, if you’re afraid of sad books, I don’t think you need to be worried about this one. Now, onto the story!
The setting. Settings are so important, and set the scene for everything. Yes, okay that is such an obvious statement, I apologize. Let me try to clarify more. What I love about settings is that they dictate what can happen in a story. If you aren’t on a lake and are instead in the middle of the dessert, you certainly can’t have summer nights laying on a raft staring up at the stars. Get it? Make sense? Settings are such a subtle glimpse into what is possible for a story. You can also get a good sense of the type of life that the characters have. If a story is taking place in New York City, the whole feel of the story is immediately more high energy and hectic versus a story taking place in a lake town, where things will be slower, quieter, and more intimate. MORAL OF THIS PARAGRAPH IS – I love the setting of this book. It immediately reminded me of my family’s camp, where I spent a lot of time in the summer, and Lake Placid, New York, where I have vacationed many times. Another connection to this story!
The characters. This takes place mostly after the death of Trixie, however we do get flashbacks and details sprinkled throughout to help build the story. I wish that we had more about each of the characters from before Trixie passed away. I think that would have built the characters out more for me, and helped me to understand why they were the way that they were after. I’m not sure that the flashbacks did the characters justice, and they could have been developed a bit better.
First love. This book is definitely nostalgic of first love, the endless possibilities that it brings, and the hold that it can have on you even after it has ended. I enjoyed it, because although I am happily married, trips down memory lane are fun. It is a nice reminder of how people in your past have impacted you and left their mark.
Greif and loss. This book is also very much about grief, loss, and coping. It explores a variety of different ways that characters are “dealing with” the loss of Trixie, and all of them are accurate. There is no one right way to cope and mourn, and the author offers a glimpse into a variety of the approaches. I think it’s a good thing to expose readers to, because unfortunately loss is inevitable, and I just think that it is good to understand that nothing is normal during that time.
Overall, I did enjoy the book quite a bit. I don’t think it’s something that I would re-read, but I would recommend it to someone who was looking for something not too serious but not too lovey.
Do you have a favorite setting for books? I think mine might be little lake towns. I just love the intimacy!