The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
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.
I really enjoyed this book. While the story is sad at times, there’s definitely lighter moments, and lots of hope. It tells the story of Ben and Lucy. Lucy was best friends with Ben’s sister, Trixie, until last summer when Trixie’s heart unexpectedly gave out during a swim in the lake, and she died. Lucy at that time had been having strong feelings for Ben for a while, and they were on the cusp of admitting those feelings to each other, when the tragedy of Trixie’s death occurred. Their grief tears them apart, and they have a devastating falling out.
Ben feels a lot of guilt surrounding his sister’s death. Instead of dealing with that guilt, and working to move forward, he numbs his feelings with alcohol, while keeping everyone at an arm’s length away, including his parents. His guilt makes him angry, not only at himself, but with others. This includes Lucy, whom he lashes out against.
Lucy feels lost. Not only does she lose her best friend, she also loses the friendship with the boy she loves. To Trixie, Ben, and their parents, Lucy was Lulu. But with that family out of her life, she’s no longer Lulu, and is struggling with that.
Both Lucy and Ben are dealing with a lot of grief, coupled with loneliness, guilt, and anger. These things make it difficult for them to reconcile with each other, even though they both still love each other deeply. While they don’t express those feelings to each other, it is evident in their inner monologues, as well as some of their actions, how they feel about each other. But grief is difficult; especially when their guilt and resentment mixed in.
It was refreshing to see both Lucy and Ben’s parents play such active roles in the story. They are grieving themselves, as well as having to watch their children grieve. I felt their reactions to certain situations in the book were a fairly accurate representation as to how parents would act in real life; at least ones actively involved in their child’s life.
I loved how this story showed how many different ways people deal with grief. There’s not only one way to deal with it. Everyone grieves differently, and it’s important to let them grieve in their own time. I thought Hanna’s friendship with Lucy was a perfect example of this. She was such a wonderful and supportive friend to Lucy, and never denied Lucy her feelings.
The only reason I didn’t rate this 5 stars is because for me at a certain point at the end, it dragged a bit. I like to see more of ‘the after;’ i.e. what happens after the couple reconciles. I would have liked a peek into how Lucy and Ben dealt with their grief as a couple, but I know that wasn’t the focus of the story. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this book.
The Last Thing You Said is a beautiful story that is both heart wrenching and heartwarming, and tells the importance of love and friendship when dealing with loss and grief.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.