Endings and beginnings sit so close to each other that it’s sometimes impossible to tell which is which.
Nothing lasts forever, and no one gets that more than Tessa. After her mother died, it’s all she can do to keep her friends, her boyfriend, her happiness from slipping away. And then there’s her dad. He’s stuck in his own daze, and it’s so hard to feel like a family when their house no longer seems like a home.
Her father’s solution? An impromptu road trip that lands them in a small coastal town at Tessa’s grandmother’s. Despite all the warmth and beauty there, Tessa can’t help but feel even more lost.
Enter Henry Lark. He understands the relationships that matter. And more importantly, he understands her. A secret stands between them, but Tessa’s willing to do anything to bring them together—because Henry may just be her one chance at forever.
The Last Forever starts with an extempore road trip. Tessa’s father decides they need a change in scenery, talks Tessa into a short trip, but instead takes her to his mother’s, Jenny’s, house and abandons her.
Tessa doesn’t know it but she’s adrift. She has lost her mother six months ago and her father has never been as good at the parenting thing. She has to pretend at being a functioning teenager if not an adult. The problem is she has a lot of growing up to do and different kinds of pains to live through, of which the least is not learning how to let go.
There’s some talk about putting down roots and saving a plant Tessa’s kleptomanic maternal grandfather stole decades ago. That’s how Tessa meets new friends and begins her genre mandated romance. This crush is painful. In this book Tess is the stubborn stalker who befriends her victim and tricks him into being friends with her. She guides him through the motions and ends up breaking both of their hearts.
This book, it tries too much. The end result falls flat like a cake without baking powder: It’s all in there, just in a condensed form that’s not particularly palatable to people who like their cakes fluffier.
I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I want the fluffy kind.
The trouble is, I couldn’t connect with Tessa. All this astute description of what it’s like to be a teenager without a clue at the cusp of adulthood, didn’t touch me because I couldn’t see myself in her. I was always too serious and old for my age and never the kind of wonderful mess Tessa is. The word wonderful is conjecture on my part and someone else, someone who recognises themselves in Tessa, needs to confirm it.
I get that both Tessa and her dad are falling apart in different ways, but Tessa’s repression of her grief doesn’t translate well on the page. And I don’t think her relationship with her father was resolved well either.
There are these chapter inserts about different plants that are supposed to tie the book together and add a more meaningful layer to the story. It might have just been sand running through my fingers for all I could grab and take away with me.
I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from the publisher.