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The Last Forever Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Tessa's life is turned upside down when her mother dies. Her father suggests an out of the blue road trip and she agrees, albeit reluctantly. The road trip ends at a small coastal town where her estranged grandmother lives. Then Tessa meets Henry Lark who she takes an immediate liking to. Despite his outward perfectness Henry has a secret, one that just might ruin the forever that Tessa had been hoping for.
Throughout all this Tessa struggles to keep a plant, the last pixiebell, a family heirloom and supposedly the last of its kind, alive.
This is an emotional story about beginnings and endings. The characters were relatable, likeable and I really felt for Tessa as she struggled through her grief without her father who was too absorbed in his own sorrow to help her.
The Last Forever is unique and well written. It took me a while to get into this book but once I did I enjoyed it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Last Forever by Deb Caletti is the story of a girl named Tess, and the people who have influenced her the most: her parents, each absent in a different way; her grandmother, who she hasn't seen since she was a toddler; and someone she never saw coming. The summer between Tessa's junior and senior years of high school is a summer filled with unexpected, unforgettable things.
Six months after her mother dies, Tessa's father decides that they should go on an impromptu road trip. Even though there's still a few weeks of school left, and even though Tess is nowhere near as impulsive as her somewhat irresponsible father, she agrees to the trip, thinking it'll be nice to blow off steam for a few days.
But what begins as a tourist-y jaunt from San Bernardino, California to the Grand Canyon continues on to Las Vegas, then to Portland, Oregon, where her dad grew up. Then her dad takes off without warning, leaving Tess stranded with a grandmother she barely knows.
Tess surprises herself by becoming comfortable not only with her artistic, lively grandma but also with her new surroundings. She falls in love with this little neighborhood where everyone knows everyone. Tess bonds very quickly with an boy her age named Henry Lark. Often found in the library, which is also one of Tess' favorite haunts, Henry is extremely smart and kind, and this friendship is a wonderful comfort to Tess.
Tess brought her most precious possession with her on this trip: the last pixiebell, a plant that her mother cared for, raised from a seed that her mother's father stole (!) while attending a party oh so many years ago. Caring for the plant gives Tess a connection to her mother, so when the pixiebell starts to wilt, Tess herself begins to crumble. With help from various townspeople (and no one is more helpful than Henry), they try to find a way to save the pixiebell - and, by extension, save Tess and her family.
The Last Forever by Deb Caletti is about finding your roots, and planting your own. It's about grief, and hope, and truth, and family. It's about the choices that are made for us, and the choices we make for ourselves. It's about celebrating what you have, honoring what you have, and knowing who you are.
Once again, Deb Caletti reminds us to embrace both the beauty and the pain in unexpected moments and in the most important parts of life. Whereas some books (and movies, and other types of stories) pile up coincidences for the sake of "high stakes" and/or happy endings, the revelations in The Last Forever are plausible, realistic, and that's why they resonate so deeply. The time we spend with Tess is time well spent.
The book follows the story of 17-year-old Tess Sedgewick, an intensely relatable teenager who is still reeling from the death of her mother from cancer six months ago. Her father doesn’t seem to be faring much better, which is evident when he pulls Tess from school with only two weeks left until summer vacation to take her on a road trip from their home in California up the Northwest coast until they settle into the small coastal town of Parrish Island. There, Tess meets her estranged grandmother, Jenny, who is rough and distant at first, but time and talk reveal her to be a nurturing, supportive maternal figure who never assumes the role of mother and holds her own beautifully wizened identity, both as an individual and in relation to Tess. She meets other inhabitants of the town and instantly forms bonds with them, the strongest of all being with Henry Lark, her self-professed “first true love.”
But do not, I repeat, do not let those cliché-sounding words fool you. THE LAST FOREVER is anything but ordinary, no tropes or stereotypes to be found here. As Tess moves forward in her relationships on Parrish Island, she struggles with guilt, self-acceptance and understanding all that this life has to offer. As she grows closer to Henry, she discovers what real love is, and though there were times she may have dwelled on describing him in cutesy, swoony terms --- there’s a lot of emphasis on how perfect his lips are --- the reader comes to realize that this isn’t some overly-sugar romance language here. It’s real, it’s honest, and Tess owns up to every thought and feeling she has in a genuine but not overbearing way. Her passion for everything perfectly balances between control and zeal, creating a mixture of enthusiasm and the creeping doubt that lies behind everything we want to believe in and love.
There were many details that I found profound and delightful, like the author’s casual handling of a lesbian relationship, meaning that she didn’t “make a big deal” about it. It was great to see such cool, progressive confidence. Also, I welcomed the fact that the character Jenny had a non-dramatic/traumatic reason for being distanced from her family because it was realistic --- I know of many cases where people become separated because of small reasons, just simple incompatibility and arguing.
Caletti is a flourishing writer --- words rise effortlessly from the page exactly the way they need to be said and you want to hear. She hits just the right emotional pitch for each scene, and you never walk away from one feeling out of place or disconnected. There are many pleasant surprises throughout the story, both in reagrds to their content and execution. She handles her plot with precision and deliberate choices that pay off immensely. And the general through-line of botany and plants was refreshing (no nature pun intended), and while I didn’t always read the little plant encyclopedia entries at the beginning of each chapter (mostly because I was too engrossed in the story to stop), their presence was somehow soothing, and I was glad they were there. The ending is satisfying, and THE LAST FOREVER is the kind of book that you finish feeling a sense of calm purpose, a subtle seed (pun totally intended) embedded deep inside you that will start taking effect in the time to come.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to believe in everything that life has to give, because regardless of where the reader is in their life, they will end up feeling good by the end of this story. I’m very interested to see what else Deb Caletti has to offer, and I will most likely look in to the rest of her bibliography. THE LAST FOREVER is a story that both sings and whispers to the reader, and in both cases, it is music to the ears.
Reviewed by Corinne Fox.
Deb Caletti is an author that I’ve been reading for quite a few years now, and eagerly anticipate each and every release of hers. This book was no different. I was also determined to finish it quickly because she will be attending the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this weekend and I am so excited to finally meet her! It’s going to be fantastic.
The thing that always impresses me about Deb Caletti’s books is that you would think after 9 YA books (and one adult books), things would start to get repetitive. Predictable. But that isn’t actually what happens. She surprises me every single time I read a book. I read the synopsis and wondered for a moment if I was going to be able to predict the ending or if I might get bored by it.
And I wasn’t at all. Deb Caletti has a way of telling such a familiar, deep story no matter what book it is. She’s such a beautiful writer. She has the ability to write an incredibly well written novel while also making it sound like we are in the mind of a typical teenager. We go through all the feelings that Tessa is going through, while Deb paints a beautiful picture of the story, and that’s what I love about this book. It somehow manages to keep those things that we come to know from capital-L literature and makes it a young adult story with that recognizable young adult voice.
What really got me about this book is that it seems like it would be a romance story, and while there is definitely a part of that, for me, it was a story about family, and the strange ways that you lose it and find it. The way a loss can change you and how to deal with that kind of loss. I seem to be reading a lot of books about loss and grief lately and it amazes me to see the similarities and differences in which a person deals with grief and I think that’s the beauty of it. Tessa is searching for her mother in something, and she holds her mother close in a little plant named Pix that her mother has left behind for her.
The story of Pix and the fight for the plant’s survival is a huge part of why I couldn’t stop reading. Tessa is obsessed with this plant, but its gaining her friends, its opening up a relationship with her grandmother, and its giving her purpose after the loss of her mother. She is able to find her mother in that plant and both hold onto the memories of her mother while also moving on into a new chapter of her life.
The relationship between Tessa and Henry in the book is unexpected and interesting to read about and I loved watching it from beginning to end, unsure of where it would end up. They both learn so much from each other, and its unlike most relationships that we see in a YA novel and I love that. I love seeing a unique take on romance, and friendship and family.
Where to begin?…
“It is one of those moments where there is so much to say that there is nothing to say, no adequate words, anyway, to speak it all.”
There is a reason why I rush out and buy Deb Caletti’s novels the instant they hit shelves. Her stories have a way of seeping into my heart, my very soul, and remaining. Something about her stories is magical. They always manage to be exactly what I need when I need it most. I can always find a bit of myself in the main characters – and I am pulled in so strongly that the story becomes my own.
‘The Last Forever’ is everything I wanted it to be and more. I expected to read a love story, and a story about personal growth. Yes, ‘The Last Forever’ is a love story. But not in the way you’d expect. And yes, it involves a character who learns and grows, just like we all continue to do. The story is something real, pure, and ultimately, refreshing. Therapeutic, even. It is not your typical “boy-loves-girl-and-girl-falls-for-boy-and-they-live-happily-ever-after” story. It is a story about love. Real love. Love that lasts forever, through thick and thin, throughout heartbreak and missed opportunities and disappointments. Through everything. Long after we are gone, love will live on. And there is comfort in that. Comfort that I, as the reader, felt so strongly I cried. Comfort that Tess, our main character, was finally able to accept.
“True love, even if just in your head, can make you forget how badly things actually suck.”
Yes, Tess falls in love with a boy in this story. But the story really isn’t about their love. It is about Tess’s love for her mother. The heartache she continues to feel because this love is so strong, and her mother is gone. It is about Tess’s love for her father. The disappointment she feels when he isn’t there when she needs him, and the realization that he really was there all along. It is about Tess’s love for herself. Her willingness to let go of her mistakes, let go of her regrets, and only hang on to what matters.
“Endings and beginnings sit so close to each other that it’s sometimes impossible to tell which is which.”
‘The Last Forever’ is Caletti’s story. It is Tess’s story. It is my story, and yours. It is a story we can fall in love with, a story to become our own – become a part of us. And in that sense, it is a story that will last forever.