The Last Time We Say Goodbye

The Last Time We Say Goodbye - Cynthia Hand

I thought this was a lovely look at how suicide affects those left behind.

 

Lex was a wonderful main character. I didn't always agree with the decisions she made concerning how she handled her brother's suicide, but there is not really any "right" way to handle that, and she was consistent and did the best she could. I loved how bright she was. I feel like we don't have enough genuinely smart characters, especially in contemporary setting and even more especially smart girls. Lex, as a mathematician, is awesome. She worries about the things that clever girls worry about in high school, and that was lovely to see represented for a change.

 

The grief was handled in a very real way, without being too hard to read or reading like a self-help guide or like the author was checking off boxes on a list of things that grief "requires". The relationships between the family members and especially in the flashback scenes between Lex and her brother felt very real. And the awkward reactions her friends seem to have were also quite true. People don't know how to deal with grief and almost none of them ever think to ask what the person suffering actually wants, so you get this kind of mixed messy reaction from a group of friends who all mean well, they are just scared.

 

Watching Lex handle thing and slowly try to piece her life back together, handling not just grief but also guilt, was beautiful in a heartbreaking way. I liked that the book ended on a positive note, but not too positive. Things are never going to be the way they were again--they can't, and it was honest to admit to that. But Lex is able to move on, and she starts making steps in that direction.

 

In practice, there isn't too much of a plot to spoil; this is an introspective book about watching a family and a girl in grief and seeing them put things back together and move on. I did have to make phone calls to my siblings after reading this, just making sure everything was okay. I think it was well worth the read and I'm impressed enough with the handling of things that I will be tracking down a few more of Cynthia Hand's books to see what else she has done.