Paranormal Young Adult
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Available June 10th
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy?
Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss--the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died--is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn't a suicide as everyone assumes. She can't remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she's worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.
If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she'll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made--good and bad--that led to her last kiss.
My Last Kiss is a story that has those of us who abhor cheating in all its various forms nervous from the moment we crack the spine, wondering if we’ll be able to connect with Cassidy or understand the whys of her disloyalty enough to forgive her. Though her reasons for turning to someone other than Ethan in the weeks leading up to her death are perhaps not quite as strong as we might like, through the piecing together of her splintered memories it’s easy for us to see how what started out as simple comfort suddenly became quicksand, pulling her down and trapping her in a lie that forced her to become the type of young woman she never dreamed she’d be.
Aiding us in our mission to withhold judgment and attempt to get to know Cassidy through our anger at her unfaithfulness is the fact that Cassidy, post-death, is as disappointed in herself as we are. As she slowly relives small fragments both from when she was younger as well as just before her death, she sees herself from the very perspective we see her–as an outsider bearing witness to the heightened emotion of the moment rather than living it–and is therefore able to acknowledge the role she played in her untimely demise. She doesn’t make excuses for herself or rationalize her behavior, instead she recognizes her mistakes and the hurt she caused in a way she didn’t or couldn’t as it was actually happening. We then find our ire simply cannot maintain its strength in the face of her clear remorse and desire to fix as much as she can in the time she has left.
The mystery aspect of the story keeps us turning the pages with increasing speed, eager to see what bit of information the next chapter will provide for us that we can file away as a brushstroke on the canvas in our minds that holds the half-formed painting of Cassidy’s last moments. While the final reveal of who was with Cassidy seconds before her death doesn’t come as a jaw-dropping surprise given Cassidy from page one understands she knew her attacker even if the specifics are blurry, the thrill lies much more in all we learn about who she was along the way rather than who was responsible for giving her a helping hand over the bridge’s railing.
Though there’s certainly a romantic aspect to this story, those readers who typically shy away from ghost stories with prominent romances for their sheer lack of believability shouldn’t discount My Last Kiss. It’s more a tale of a young girl who held something solid in her palms one minute only to have it turn to sand and slip through her fingers the next, each chapter helping both her and us as readers understand the choices she made and how they led her to a place where the only person who can see her is the one she hurt the most. There are certainly moments where pre-death Cassidy and post-death Cassidy have us wanting to shake her until the whole truth spills from her lips, but overall My Last Kiss is a truly entertaining read with a beautifully bittersweet ending.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.
If you haven't had a chance yet, be sure and check out my character interview with Ethan!