On My Bookshelf: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

September 03, 2018

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand grapples with the tremendous grief and guilt that Alexis feels after her brother's suicide. She has broken up with her boyfriend, she's avoiding her friends, and she is worried about her mother who seems to be in an even more fragile state than she is. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand comes a stunning, heart-wrenching novel of love and loss, which ALA Booklist called "both shatteringly painful and bright with life and hope" in a starred review.

Since her brother, Tyler, committed suicide, Lex has been trying to keep her grief locked away, and to forget about what happened that night. But as she starts putting her life, her family, and her friendships back together, Lex is haunted by a secret she hasn't told anyone—a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Why I liked it: The Last Time We Say Goodbye grapples with the tremendous grief and guilt that Alexis feels after her brother's suicide. She has broken up with her boyfriend, she's avoiding her friends, and she is worried about her mother who seems to be in an even more fragile state than she is. She is a well-developed character who displays a range of emotions and can be incredibly funny despite the serious nature of the book. While I liked Alexis, my favorite character was Sadie, Alexis's former best friend who re-enters Alexis's life after her brother's death. Sadie provides Alexis space to begin to move on with her life. She doesn't treat Alexis any differently because of what happened. Sadie doesn't walk on eggshells around Alexis or scorn her based on her brother's actions.
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand grapples with the tremendous grief and guilt that Alexis feels after her brother's suicide. She has broken up with her boyfriend, she's avoiding her friends, and she is worried about her mother who seems to be in an even more fragile state than she is. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

In contrast with the popular novel and now TV series, 13 Reasons Why, by the end of the novel, Alexis understands that there isn't anything she could have done differently to "save" brother, an important message for teenagers who lose a friend or family member to suicide. Be sure to read the author's note at the end of the novel for insight into her inspiration for the novel.

Classroom application: I would recommend this one for upper middle school and high school. It has less mature content than most books on this topic. At the high school level, it could be paired with other novels about suicide such as Hold Still by Nina La Cour, In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner, and I Was Here by Gayle Forman. Students could research the statistics surrounding suicide and present these along with warning signs and ways to help.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Last Time We Say Goodbye for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand grapples with the tremendous grief and guilt that Alexis feels after her brother's suicide. She has broken up with her boyfriend, she's avoiding her friends, and she is worried about her mother who seems to be in an even more fragile state than she is. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

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