The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
Anna Eliot is tired of worrying about what other people think. After all, that was how she lost the only guy she ever really liked, Finn Westbrook.
Now, three years after she broke his heart, the one who got away is back in her life.
All Anna wants is a chance to relive their last kiss again (and again and again). But Finn obviously hasn't forgotten how she treated him, and he’s made it clear he has no interest in having anything to do with her.
Anna keeps trying to persuade herself that she doesn't care about Finn either, but even though they've both changed since they first met, deep down she knows he’s the guy for her. Now if only she can get him to believe that, too....
With her signature wit and expertly authentic teen voice, Claire LaZebnik (the author of fan favorites Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting) once again breathes new life into a perennially popular love story. Fans of Polly Shulman, Maureen Johnson, and, of course, Jane Austen will love this irresistibly funny and romantic tale of first loves and second chances.
What I Liked:
The first thing I thought when I finished reading this book: I really want to read Persuasion now. Honestly, I thought I had read Persuasion at some point - apparently not. But now I want to read it, so see from where this book got its roots. I absolutely adored this book! It's really cute and sad and wonderful and poignant and did I mention wonderful? It's worth repeating. I've never read any of this author's books, but I must say, I really liked this one!
Anna's love life is a bit of a disaster - in her freshman year, she broke Finn's heart, and he moved away with his family. Three years later, he and his family moved back, and he won't give her the time of day. Now she is heartbroken, and she knows it's her fault that he hates her. It's not his fault that she refused to dance with him three years ago, because she cared too much about what others thought. Or that, three years later, he becomes interested in one of her friends, Lily. Or that she wants him back, but there is nothing she can do about it.
I recently read To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, and let me tell you, that book BLEW ME AWAY. I'm not one for contemporary novels, but that one was so good. It's amazing how I chose that one, and this one, as two of the spring contemporary novels that I would give a chance - and I ended up loving both of them. That made me really happy.
This one deals with Anna and her broken relationship with Finn, her relationship with her sisters, and her relationship with her father. I like how many sub-stories this book had - it made this book less about the romance (which is automatically the first thing that one thinks of when one looks at this book), and more about the story and journey of a girl.
For the majority of this book, the relationship between Finn and Anna is not a happy one. It's not like Finn is particularly pleased with Anna - she broke his heart and made him look like a fool. And Anna knows better than to hope that he is not angry with her. Finn acts very polite but distant with her - nothing more personal than that. This was sad, but at the same time, I totally understand Finn.
And yet, I found the progression of the second-chance relationship really beautiful. It's very subtle - not much can really happen physically, when Finn is practically dating Lily (a friend of Anna), and Anna is trying not to show her continuing interest in Finn. But eventually, it becomes clear that Finn never really lost interest in Anna, despite the fact that he is interested in someone else.
As for characters, I really liked how well LaZebnik characterized and developed each one. There are SO MANY, but all of them were unique in their own way. Like, I'm able to tell you something different about each character - that's not always easy! My favorite was probably Lucy - I can relate to her the most, in terms of relationships and academics.
I like how LaZebnik has the family life as a major part of this book. Anna and her father are practically strangers. Her mother doesn't put much of an effort to be in her life. Anna's oldest sister, Molly, is in college, as is her second older sister, Lizzie. Molly is a great big sister, but Lizzie seems a bit shallow and preoccupied with silly things (in my opinion).
LaZebnik incorporates a very real and authentic teenage voice - her writing style really lends itself to how a teenager would seem in real life. Of course, every teenager has a different voice, but LaZebnik really captures a teenager's personality and being in this book. Honestly, I would never do some of the things that the teens in this book partake in (including Anna), such as smoking weed (oh, but how you've tried, Victor), but LaZebnik definitely has a good grasp what goes on in a typical teenager's mind.
I'm pretty pleased with the plot of the story - I was never really bored or disinterested. I definitely want to check out Persuasion, after reading this book, to see how the two match up.
What I Did Not Like:
The only that sort of bothered me was the way how everything wrapped up perfectly. I can't say anything without giving away serious spoilers, so I'm not going to describe exactly what I had a problem with, but the climax and ending seemed a little too perfect, in terms of how things ended for Finn and Anna. Like, things happened a little too conveniently, right? Or maybe not, I don't know. Maybe it would have happened for Finn and Anna anyway.
Would I Recommend It:
Hmmm, well, this is another contemporary novel that I really enjoyed, so YES! I'm in a shock, a little, because I don't usually enjoy contemporary novels (and yes, I do read a good amount of them each year). Maybe the cute yet subtly deep ones are the ones I like.
4 stars. I'm so glad I chose this one, of all of Harper's spring contemporary novels! I told myself that I needed to take at least one contemporary novel from their uploaded spring contemporary titles.. This was the perfect one, in my opinion!
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