Do you know the feeling you get while and after you hold your breath for long? How time seems to stop for a while, how your heart beats faster and faster, how sharp everything becomes after the fuzziness washes over?
There is nothing in this world quite like the feeling of true happiness, or deep sadness, or shattering grief. There is nothing like the words that can really get to you, or the stories that you feel like wanting to take them into your arms, hugging them breathless and never wanting to let them go.
There is nothing quite like reading a book that makes you laugh – a true, deep laugh from the very center of your being… Or the ones that can shatter you into thousands of pieces, leaving you with a mind full of what ifs.
“The Last Time We Say Goodbye” is a sad book. A beautiful, wonderful story about grief, about the pain of losing someone dear, about all the things you could have done to keep your loved ones safe. And I hate sad books. I really do. They can make my eyes leak this stupid warm, salty water, running down my face. And if not, they still make my heart ache.
But there’s beauty in them too, isn’t it?
In the fact that without being ‘hopeless’ you wouldn’t ever know what ‘hopeful’ feels like. In the fact that words have the power to create – to create emotions, to create new worlds and make you into new people. Words have the power to shut down the world around you or to make you really see it. Words can be as powerful as regrets.
“You never know when it’s going to be the last time. That you hug someone. That you kiss. That you say goodbye.”
So, you know.. Sad books are not for sad people.
But maybe they are, because there is so much beauty in this world, so much love, so much everything, that people should NEVER feel this sad.
I knew Cynthia can write about grief with a passion, I loved Hallowed the best because of that, but I think I might not do grief that well these days. I hate death, I hate feeling scared of it, I hate the people that have died in my life and have left me with this hollow in my heart that I can’t seem to be able to fill even years later.
But the truth is that this story is wonderful, it is filled with sorrow but it also has moments of happiness, of cuteness. It is bitter-sweet in a way that breaks your heart and some times puts it back together. It took me 3 days to read this story. Not because it wasn’t entertaining enough, but because I had work and had a terrible flu that made reading very hard. So I had enough time to think it through.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a depressing book that would make you cry an ocean (then again, it might tough, so you should keep some tissues around), even though it deals with depression, but it has the power to make you feel like your heart weights a lot more than usual, pressing really hard on you soul every now and then.
This is not a story about death, as much as one about forgiveness – Alexis (or Lex) needs to forgive her father for walking away, her mother for being so weak, her ex-boyfriend for giving her everything, her friends for feeling her despair, her brother for being so selfishly depressed, herself for not being there to save him. And she feels like she needs forgiveness to… For all the words left unspoken, for all the things that she could have done, for all the life her brother could have lived, for all the tears that have dried up.
“Forgiveness is tricky, Alexis, because in the end it’s more about you than it’s about the person who’s being forgiven”
I will start with Tyler (or simply Ty). He is not the main character here. He is not someone you should judge. He is not someone you should feel sorry for. He is not someone who could learn a lesson from this story. But he also is, isn’t he? And there are many Tys out there, in the darkness, all alone. Or so they think. I just wish they’d never feel ‘below empty’. I just wish they’d never want to say goodbye.
But this is not his story after all, so I will get back to Alexis.
She is… angry. She was left behind by her father, she was left behind by her brother, she was never actually given a choice. Or she was, that’s part of the problem too. And beyond that she is empty. But she fills that emptiness with regrets, and bad recurring dreams (in which her brother dies over and over again), and the immensity of a loss beyond her reach; she fills it with so many questions and what ifs that could choke the life out of her.
“What wishes did Ty respect?” I throw back at Sadie. “Why doesn’t anyone ever ask that, I wonder. Where’s the respect there?”
“The Last Time We Say Goodbye” shows the effects a tragedy like this can have – we see suicide not from the point of view of the one committing it, but from all the people affected by it, even though only Alexis is the narrator.
And I think the way Lex is facing the aftermath of her brother’s death is absolutely authentic. The numbness, the confusion, the despair and even the anger she tries to hide. Alexis is a great character, but she is troubled, she is broken, she is sad and doesn’t know how to be anything else. Still she is relatable, you can understand her and be compassionate about everything she is getting through.
Then, there is the mother who doesn’t know how to live a happy life with all the broken pieces in her family. The father that never knew that his happiness would have such a high price. Steven who was perfect (a perfect geek, a perfect friend, a lovely boyfriend). And the friends, and the ex-girlfriend… Everyone was great and I wish Ty would have seen all that.
There are so many people affected by Ty’s decision, though he probably never knew he could have this effect on any of them. It is sad, really, that his unbearable sadness could cause so much more pain. Considering he only wanted the pain to stop.
“You’re like the sun and I’m like a big black cloud. I’d always be darkening your skies.”
Wonderfully written and absolutely touching!
The cover-art is perfect, the tagline hits a soft spot, the title is spot on, the story inside is beautiful. I think that every detail is perfect. Even perfectly sad. All in one this book here is absolutely great, not only for fans of Cynthia Hand, but for everyone who likes to read emotional stories.
There are many thing I wish I could say about it. I can’t because I don’t want to spoil it, so I left tiny little clues in the form of some of those images (won’t tell you which ones though). And with this out of the way, I must say once more that this book is absolutely amazing!!
Happy midnight reading!
Early review: ARC received from the publisher for review. Thank you!
Expected publication: February 10th 2015 by Harper Teen
PS: I am not sure which hurts the most: the story or the story behind the story. *sigh*