Release Date: February 6th, 2018
Trigger Warnings: suicide attempt, suicide mentions, abuse, violence, PTSD, depression, stealing, lying, death of a parent
Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
How do you let go of something you’ve never had?
Junior year for Brooke Winters is supposed to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind.
But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. No one really knows what happened that day, if it was premeditated or self-defense, whether it was right or wrong. And now Brooke and her 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.
R E V I E W
The Last To let Go is obviously an important story. It captures abuse and how it affects each family member, not just the ones being abused (in this case, the father was abusing the mother). However, the story was very lacking to me. I felt like I couldn’t get into this story. I expected so much more, especially more abuse to be featured. I really was hoping for a story that helped me continue dealing with mine…it didn’t. That would be because this story barely focused on the abuse element, despite it being the central plot. It overall felt very weak. From the execution to the writing and characters, I just really wasn’t able to fully appreciate this book for what it is. I guess the abuse books I’ve read lately are just destined to let me down.
The Last To Let Go is from the perspective of Brooke, a girl who absolutely loves school so much she’s transferring to a new school for her junior and senior years in order to take better AP classes. Things start to go wrong though the summer before this when she comes home from her final exam to police and ambulances at her home. She thinks it’s finally happened. Her dad has finally killed her mum. However, the opposite has happened. Brooke’s mother has snapped and killed her father. His abuse and controlling nature being too much to take. This sends the family into a whirlwind, especially since the youngest sister was there to witness it all and won’t talk about it, the event too traumatic for her to even talk about. The Last To Let Go by Amber Smith really highlights how abuse affects each family member in a different way. However, it repeatedly drops the ball on the topic and lets it fade to the background with it leaving Brooke’s mind. As someone who hasn’t witnessed abuse in almost five years, I still am fearful of it and it’s on my mind everyday.
This doesn’t take away from the fact The Last To Let Go is an important story about letting go. However, I just feel like, overall, the abuse could have been dropped from the narrative and the book simply focused on the tragic death of a parent.
L I K E S
✗ AN IMPORTANT STORY
A lot of people I’ve spoken to seem to think domestic violence is a big secret. That screaming matches don’t occur that alert everyone in a three-block radius of what’s happening. That sometimes the children are affected. Sometimes you’re the reason for the argument, or you’re being accused of it. Domestic violence in a household is intense. You can’t escape it as a child and all you can do is fear that someone will die, it may even be you or your siblings. This is speaking from experience.
The Last To Let Get shows in small areas what it is like to be affected by this. I found it was more so obvious to the other siblings, not Brooke. Brooke seemed okay and not weighed down by what had happened, in my opinion. The abuse in her past affected some of her personality, which was clearly identifiable, but I really felt through her internal monologue she wasn’t as affected by what had happened.
Basically, what I liked is that this story made it very obvious that the children in a parental domestic violence situation are affected and struggle with it.
✗ SHOWS MESSY FAMILY DYNAMICS
The messy family dynamic is a big one. The Winters’ are a mess. They don’t get along and they don’t have a sibling relationship. Something I understand. I love when the family is included in a book, but as someone who isn’t close to their sister despite everything they’ve been through it was good to see it mimicked in text, to an extent. Family isn’t easy either; it never will be easy, especially after an event like this. There will be opposing views and a weird sense of relief, which is followed by guilt. I just wish that had been translated to text more.
Everyone deals with traumatic events in different ways and in those events family isn’t whom you can always turn to. It was good to see that so well put in text.
D I S L I K E S
✗ INCONSISTENT AND INCONSIDERATE MC
I didn’t like Brooke. Her whole character was inconsistent and she was severely inconsiderate. Throughout the whole book, she only thought of herself. She barely spared a thought for anyone, not even her sister or her brother. It was all about her and what she wanted. She wanted to go live back in her house? So, she forced her brother to come back despite his terrible memories of it which resulted in him and his girlfriend breaking up. She forced her sister back into the place that she witnessed a traumatic event, no doubt forcing her to take backwards steps in her recovery. It was just so frustrating. Even at the end of the book, Brooke remained only caring about herself.
I don’t mind a main character who only cares about herself, but in a book like this I really wanted a more empathic person and someone I would want to root for. This isn’t what I got with Brooke.
✗ CHOPPY WRITING
The writing wasn’t there for me. It felt choppy. As if we’d get to one scene only to be ripped out and put in another. It was pretty frustrating when you’re already struggling to feel sympathy for the main character. I wanted to scream at times because a scene was beginning to be developed and we’d change.
✗ THE ROMANCE WASN’T THERE
I adore f/f romances. I think there needs to be so many more, especially with the ration of m/m to f/f. However, I didn’t feel the romance in this book. It felt incredibly underdeveloped and as if the characters themselves weren’t involved in their own romances. A lot of drama comes from it and for the duration of most of it, Brooke isn’t even truthful or forthcoming with what’s happening in her life. It really felt as if a romance wasn’t needed in her life at the time it came. Maybe it’s just me though, but as I said it’s been five years since I’ve seen abuse and I can’t see myself in a relationship due to fear.
✗ THE ABUSE WASN’T FOCUSED ON AT ALL
Now, this was very annoying. The literal message of the book was barely touched on. We get around four flashbacks to the past, which shows the abuse. We can feel sympathy for Brooke and her family. Brooke’s actions after these flashbacks don’t invoke sympathy though – and obviously, actions speak louder than words. It just felt like I was promised a book that dealt with abuse of a parent and I didn’t get that. I didn’t get the book I desperately wanted. If the abuse was taken out from this book it would still be a concise story that wouldn’t interest me.
Overall, I just don’t have words for how The Last To let Go by Amber Smith made me feel. I am disappointed beyond words and expected too much. I think it’s time I take a step back from books that feature abuse and hopefully when I return I’ll find something worth my time.
Happy reading everyone!
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