Title: The Last Thing You Said
Author: Sara Biren
Publisher: Abrams / Amulet Books
Publication Date: 4th April 2017
Format: ARC e-Book
Note: This book was received from the publisher in return for an honest review
About the book:
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.
What I Thought:
The Last Thing You Said tells the story of Lucy and Ben, two teenagers who almost a year ago lost one of the most important people in their lives. When Trixie died Ben lost his sister, and Lucy lost her best friend and her second family. The story begins the following May when Lucy starts her summer job working at the resort in her home town. The cabins she works at are owned by Trixie’s aunt and uncle and she spends most of her time babysitting Emily, Trixie’s cousin that they used to watch together. Emily is only just turned five and so her memories of her cousin are a little blurry and she enjoys nothing more than having Lucy tell her a Trixie – a little story about her cousin. Ben also helps out at his aunt and uncle’s resort although he’s not spoken to Lucy since the day of Trixie’s funeral, something that upsets and confuses his parents considering how close they were before Trixie’s death, you really feel that for them they’ve lost two daughters despite the fact one still lives across town.
What I found worked really well was the story being told from both Ben’s and Lucy’s point of view, you get to understand how confused both teens are, Lucy doesn’t understand what it was that made Ben turn on her, and Ben struggles to deal with his guilt from that fateful day. They both make mistakes and I could have shouted No! at each of them several times, but that’s a true reflection on life, outside looking in it’s very easy to make judgements, but in reality we make mistakes, we do something because it’s easy and makes us feel better, and we pick the wrong person to date. I liked the addition of the ‘Trixies’ throughout the story to really show the friendship that Lulu and Trixie had built over the years, and I loved the little snippets from their ‘Book of Quotes’
At the beginning of the ARC there is a brief note from Sara Biren that talks about the inspiration for her writing this book, the loss of a friend during high school, and then reading the online journal of a local teen that was dying. I think you can tell this from her writing, losing a friend wasn’t something I dealt with during school but to me it feels very genuine, be it Lucy’s well meaning parents trying to get her to move on, not fully understanding how much the loss of her best friend has, and will continue to affect her even a year on, to Ben’s anger and misplaced guilt. The misplaced guilt is something I particularly identified with, one Thursday I missed my usual regular dinner with my grandma because I was away for a few days, a couple of days into my trip I got a phone call to say that my grandma had had a massive heart attack and passed away. Despite the fact there was noway I could have known that was going to happen it took me a very long time to get over the guilt I felt on missing what would have been our last dinner together, even now nearly ten years later it can still get to me.
Would I recommend it?
Absolutely, this book is so well written and is believable account of two teen’s journeys through grief. It’s written by an author who has made a similar journey herself and that comes across in the writing, it also had a really satisfying upbeat conclusion.