I thought Amber Smith’s (2016) The Way I Used to Be was a really strong book, so I had high hopes for her second.
Check out my review of The Last To Let Go below!
To be published by Margaret McElderry Books on February 6, 2018
Source: eARC from the publisher for review
Synopsis (adapted from Goodreads): How do you let go of something you’ve never had? Brooke Winters’ junior year is going to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind. But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when she arrives home one day to find the police at her house. Now Brooke and her two siblings are on their own. In a year of firsts—the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom—Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go.
My review of The Last to Let Go:
I thought highly of Amber Smith’s first book, The Way I Used to Be, an unflinching story about a girl who’s been raped.
The Last to Let Go tackles an equally tough subject: domestic violence. Brooke knows that her father has a terrible temper, but when she arrives home one day to find the police at her house, she’s filled with dread. I actually edited the synopsis above to preserve some suspense about what happened … but it’s not good.
This violent event leaves Brooke and her two siblings left without a parent to care for them. Brooke and her older brother try to cope, while their younger sister, who witnessed the event, has stopped speaking completely.
Smith’s books are interesting in that they focus more on the aftermath of a terrible event than the event itself.
Like Eden in The Way I Used to Be, Brooke tries to cope by keeping the tragedy secret from her friends at her new school and pushing aside well-meaning adults who want to help.
Another interesting aspect of The Last to Let Go is that it shows how the three siblings cope differently. Eden tries desperately to pretend things can be “normal.” Her brother just wants to flee from it all. And their sister frustrates them by refusing to say exactly what happened.
The Last to Let Go is a dark book that doesn’t try to pretend that there is a magic fix for years and even generations of dysfunction in Brooke’s family. It does give Brooke some unlikely allies: a grandmother she never knew, a therapist she tries to avoid, and a new friend who wants to be more than that to Brooke.
Highly recommended to fans of contemporary YA. If you loved Robin Benway’s Far From the Tree, you need to read this!