The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand | Book ReviewThe Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Also by this author: Unearthly, The Afterlife of Holly Chase
Published by Harper Collins on February 10th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues, Death & Dying, Family, Siblings, Love & Romance
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand comes a gorgeous, 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.
In the tradition of Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, Gayle Forman's If I Stay, and Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a thoughtful and deeply affecting novel that will change the way you look at life and death.

Are you in the market for a gut wrenching read? You need to get a copy of The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand. Reader friends, this book absolutely gutted me. Granted, that is something that I would expect based upon the subject matter. Still, although I had expected the emotions, it did not lessen their impact and this book hit me like a tidal force. It is that good and that emotional. Hand’s contemporary book is quite different from her Unearthly series and is about suicide and what it leaves in it’s wake. It is a hard read, but worth it.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye is narrated by Lex. Lex is one of those too smart for her own good sort of girls. She is in all AP classes and definitely not the cool crowd, but she is very happy with her group of brainiac friends. Her brother, Ty, was a jock and seemed to have everything going. So,when he commits suicide, it rocks Lex to her very core. She is no longer the happy go lucky girl that she was. She breaks off her relationship. She stops being friendly with her old crowd, instead withdrawing and becoming a loner. She even begins going to therapy which plays quite the role in this book (and a positive one too – might I add, but more on that later).

So, Lex begins to see what she assumes is the ghost of her brother Ty. However, you guys this is not a paranormal book in the least, so don’t avoid it because of that assumption. You’ll see when you read the book. What happens is that Lex begins to come to terms with the loss of her brother and then moving on with her life. I will say right now that if you are a fan of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, you will also find yourself loving this book. It carries that same emotional punch.

I loved Lex as a character. I love the journey that she goes on. You see, she blames herself for Ty’s suicide. She knows that her brother was depressed and there’s something that you’ll pick up on when you read this book. I love that we see her journey of healing from the trauma and the pain. I love that she experiences actual legitimate trauma from what has happened. Hand does not shy away from depicting the painful, emotional bits which increased the impact of The Last Time We Say Goodbye for me quite dramatically. I loved how smart Lex was and how she totally relates to the world in terms of math and equations. I love how college plays a role in this book – at least the acceptance process and how the impact of her acceptance to a certain school interacts with the impact of Ty’s suicide in her life. Y’all, writing that sentence just made me flashback to when I read this book, and oh, my FEELS. MY EMOTIONS. You will see when you read this.

Plenty of The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand focuses on Lex’s brother, Ty. This obviously makes sense because his suicide is what drives the entire book. While reading this, I can understand why his loss comes at such a shock to the community and especially to his family. Reading the book, you find that Ty was a special young man with so much going for him. He wasn’t bullied at school, he had good friends. Yet, he also struggled with depression. This book makes the whole subject startlingly real and clear. I guess, in a sense, I liked that the depiction of Ty wasn’t some moralistic kind of thing, but rather, we see him as a whole and real person, rather than as a lesson. This really strengthened the story for me, as a reader.

I want to touch on the whole suicide and mental health awareness subject matter of The Last Time We Say Goodbye. Here’s the thing, suicide is an epidemic. It is devastating – the fall out of what happens and being the people left behind to pick up the pieces and ask why. I work in the human services field and where I am, they host the suicide prevention coalition. I’ve been to a few trainings on the subject and believe you me, mental health is so important and so ignored. I loved that in this book, although Lex was skeptical about therapy it ultimately helps her. I liked that this was a book that doesn’t demonize therapy and make it seem like bullshit. When books do that, I feel it does a real disservice to the mental health field. So, good on Cynthia Hand for raising awareness about how helpful it can be to receive mental health treatment. I also like how this book deals with Lex’s self blame for Ty’s suicide too and how it shows that maybe it was just Ty’s brain chemistry that caused it to happen.

For real though, Cynthia Hand brings her characteristic flawless writing to The Last Time We Say Goodbye for a devastating impact. I finished this book as a sobbing mess. It is one that will stick with me for quite a long time. Highly, highly recommend.

Other reviews of The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand:

Pure Imagination – “this book is heartbreaking

Christina Reads YA – Quite simply, there is a lot to like about this book.

Reading After Midnight – “A beautiful, wonderful story about grief

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. This one is apart of my TBR Pile Challenge. I’ve been told to break out the kleenex for this one. Hopefully, I’ll be reading it within the next few weeks. Great review!

  2. Great review! I actually read this a while back, thanks to receiving an eARC, and honestly, I don’t remember a bit of it. Your review jogged my memory a little, but the rest is just a blank. Obviously a fog had descended over my brain as I read >.< I'm convinced to go back and give this another read, because it does deal with serious, important subjects, and I'd like to share my thoughts on them, too.

    Thank you for sharing! <3

  3. Lovely review, April! I really enjoyed THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE. It was very emotional, and I think that Hand really captured the tone and feelings of the situation Lex was in perfectly. Loved this one, and glad you did too!

  4. Excellent review. I loved this book so much because it was probably the most realistic when it came to mental health. It also showed how brutal that pain can be but left me feeling like the characters would heal. That their lives didn’t stop when Ty’s did. I ugly cried for sure.

    If I remember correctly I read in the dedication or author’s notes that Hand’s brother committed suicide. I’m sure that had an impact on how she wrote this book. It isvanbamazing book even if it is heart crushing to read.

  5. This seems like a really considerate and candid view into mental health for those both affected and unaffected. I’ll definitely be looking into it.