ARC Review: The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren
The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren is not to be missed. Read my 5-star review below and preorder this contemporary romance today! I would like to thank Amulet Books for the advance review copy provided by Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion.
Category: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Publication: April 4th, 2017; Amulet Books
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 is powerful. And from the title and description alone, I had a feeling I’d love it.
I was right.
Lucy’s best friend died nearly a year ago. Her death occurred right on the cusp of Lucy getting what she’d always wanted—Trixie’s brother, Ben. But as is the case with death, everything screeches to a halt. Things change, people change. And, The Last Thing You Said, is a brilliant portrayal of death, grief, and first love.
Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve said this, nor will it be the last, but I adore the best friends to lovers trope. It never gets old regardless of how many stories I read. So that was my first pull/draw to this book. The second? The death of a loved one. Maybe I’m morbid, but I find myself enjoying the stories of those dealing with grief while in the midst of love. What sets this apart from others I’ve read, though, is that the “couple” have both been affected by the same death. Both are grieving, but unfortunately, separate instead of together. And really, this is where 90% of the angst in this book stems from.
I won’t even lie—I’m about to be a hypocrite. In my past review, I claimed to hate the brooding hero trope. And while it’s still true, this time, it has merit. I loved Ben. I understood why he was moody and damaged. However, I also hated him for what he’d done to Lucy; how he was still treating her. I lost count of all the times I wanted to punch him for doing stupid things. I did give him a pass (somewhat) because both were stubborn. And, Lucy… I felt her pain. I can’t imagine losing not only a best friend, but a second family as well. Or, potentially the love of my life. All in one swoop. And I’m in no way saying her actions weren’t stupid at times, because they were. I did understand her reasoning, though, with how the distance came into play. Both characters were extremely well-developed, but more importantly, had their own voices. It actually felt as though I were in the heads of two separate people. And since this isn’t always the case, I appreciated it.
Thankfully, we do get both points of view. Witnessing the damage the tragic death of Trixie caused was devastating. My heart broke for both. But again, all I wanted was them to get their heads out of their asses and TALK. The angst factor in this book is out of control. So much tension! And this doesn’t go away… not until nearly the end. But it’s not just about them. We see how it affected their families. Their other relationships, too. It’s honest and real.
Hannah is a joy. As is Guthrie. Those two made for great background characters. And Emily. Through Lucy’s storytelling to the little girl, we get to know Trixie a little better. We, too, get to mourn her loss.
This is one of the best contemporary stories I’ve read in a while. Maybe since 2015, even. I haven’t been this invested in one in nearly as long. From Simon to Dana to Lucy to Ben… it’s a tale that isn’t always easy. But it’s an honest, brilliant, realistic story. One that will stay with me for a long time.