Sunday, April 2, 2017

strictly literary: the last thing you said by sara biren

lucy and ben had always been connected by trixie. she was lucy's best friend. she was ben's little sister. they'd all grown up together in their small resort town on minnesota's halcyon lake. so when trixie's heart gave out on a routine swim they had no idea how to process that kind of grief.

lucy had loved ben forever. but since trixie died it was as if he only knew how to cause her pain. she didn't understand his anger or his need to hurt her. in the year since her death there had been a thousand small cuts. starting with what he said to her on the day of her funeral.

what he said was actually pretty unforgivable. and ben would take it back if he knew how. he hated hurting lucy. except that every time he saw her he'd think how she was here and trixie wasn't. and he'd think if he hadn't been thinking of lucy. of how her skin felt when it brushed against his. of how he wanted to run his fingers through her hair and caress the freckles dusting her cheek. of how he loved her and wanted to kiss her and be with her. and maybe, just maybe, if he hadn't been so focused on thoughts like that, maybe his sister would still be here. and maybe everything was his fault. but it's easier to blame someone else, and lucy is the only other person he can blame.

and the thing is, she is the only person he can blame who is strong enough to take it. she is the only person he can treat so badly that will still forgive him and love him in the end. and now that the anniversary of trixie's death is approaching, maybe it's time that he stop hating lucy and stop hating himself and stop hating the fact that his sister is dead. maybe if he accepts her death. accepts that it was something that could not have been avoided. she had a heart condition and it would have given out at some point, whether or not ben was there to stop it.

the last thing you said is a story about loss and heartbreak and grief. about how even when things are broken beyond measure they can be put back together again, you just have to accept the differences. lucy and ben's story is beautiful and sad. they both make a lot of stupid choices. they're doing their best to survive, because the only way forward is to take it one day at a time. and maybe they're done with all the hurting and are ready to start healing. sara biren's debut is a powerful exploration of grief and how the experience of loss at such a young age can be devastating and raw and painful.

**the last thing you said will publish on april 4, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/abrams kids (amulet books) in exchange for my honest review.

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