The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren

Good morning, lovely people! I spent almost all of my weekend reading in pajamas, so to say that Monday is a huge disappointment is a bit of an understatement. But this week does hold some exciting goodies for me, so I guess I’ll take it! For now, though, I thought that this book would bring a smile to everyone’s faces for such a cloudy Monday {if you’re in my neck of the woods, that is}.

 

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Title: The Last Thing You Said {320 pgs}

Genre: YA

Publication Date: April 4, 2017

Summary:

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.

To be honest, I requested this from NetGalley at first because of the cover. Look at that thing! It’s so pretty and hopeful that I knew that the story would be just as good. Luckily, I was not disappointed.

I have a bunch of summer stories piling up in my Kindle, and I think this was the perfect first one to read to get me ready for sweltering heat and long nights with no sleep because who can sleep on those hot sheets with no air conditioning?? Really, though, this story is the very definition of bittersweet, and the hot weather of summer does nothing to help these characters figure out what’s going on in their heads.

I guess I should start off with Lucy, because there was something in her life that I truly appreciated: Hannah, her new friend. Trixie died in August of the summer before, and then school started, and Lucy met Hannah, a girl from South Dakota with rodeo dreams and big Texas blonde hair. Hannah does not push, does not force Lucy to spill all of her secrets, and does not become angry when a secret is revealed and Hannah realizes that Lucy had never told her before. In short, Hannah is a good friend, the kind of friend that anyone would want, especially a girl who’s reeling from losing her best friend from kindergarten. More than Hannah, though, Lucy is amazing. She doesn’t forget Trixie, telling stories about her to Trixie’s little cousin who Lucy babysits. But Lucy does not shut herself away in her room. No, she works in her family’s restaurant at times and dates the boy next door. She visits Trixie’s grave and tries to tell her best friend that she’s okay, and tries to believe it. She tries so hard to move on with her life, but it’s hard doing that in such a small town, where she sees Ben at every corner.

Ben. BEN.

From Lucy’s flashbacks, I can see why she loves him. He was sweet and gentle and teasing, and he was her best friend’s big brother, which is always a point in the plus column for some reason. But that Ben does not seem to exist anymore, and that Lucy can remember a time when he was not angry and bitter makes this story that much more heartbreaking. Since the reader gets both Lucy and Ben’s POV, we know that that boy still lives inside of Ben, but he doesn’t know how to push aside the constant anger he feels to let the happy boy back out. And, boy, is it understandable. He lost his sister. His mother is a wreck. His father drinks and pushes Ben to the brink. The girl he’s in love with is holding hands with some stranger and believes that Ben hates her.

Somewhere along the line, you begin to really feel sorry for butthead Ben.

As a teenager, summer always held this weirdly magical quality for me, like even we were just driving around our tiny nothing town, the warm summer nights and the fact that we could stay out until one in the morning on a Tuesday made it so much better. Having this story set in the summer gave the events of this story a dream-like quality, shooting the reader back to those summers with the kind of responsibility that adults can only yearn for now. Yes, these kids have jobs, but it’s summer, and that means making mistake and getting through life one day at a time, because the next day is still another summer’s day. Lucy and Ben probably hate summer because of Trixie, but this setting also gives them the clarity to work through their problems and to wonder what might happen next.

I’m not forcing you to pre-order this book, but I’m just telling you that you’d really be missing out on a fantastic story written in quick bursts of chapters that don’t give you time to recuperate before Sara Biren throws another thing at you, and then you’re staying up until two in the morning to finish it because you have to know what happens and sleeping is for the weak.

Okay, maybe I’m twisting your arm a bit. But it’s a good twist. As always, you’ll thank me later.

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