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.
This plain, sweet romance is something that I think is now an oddity in the young adult contemporary genre. I find that lately there’s a lot of fancy-ing up in that department, and based on the ARC’s I’ve received this year, it looks like realistic fiction is drifting farther and farther away from, well, realism. Of course, this isn’t to say it’s necessarily a bad thing, because, really, who doesn’t like feeling like life can sometimes be just that of a fantasy? We all love taking a step back from real life while staying in the realm and feeling like maybe reality isn’t just a thing of the norm, that there’s some sort of magic brewing there. It’s great, I love it, but every now and then I like being convinced that life can be raw, completely real, totally raw, and still, above all else, magical.
This is exactly what The Last Best Kiss.
There’s harrowing romance, which I’m aware we’re all basically die-hard fans of. You know the kind I’m talking about, where you’re in love with your best friend’s maybe-kinda-sorta boyfriend and you put their happiness above your own because…how else is it supposed to be? In other words: the most painful kind, which is really close to real life teenage romance and in turn, even more painful than it should be coming from fictional characters. Anna and Finn broke my heart so many times over the course of this novel but in the best way possible and if anything I’m only reluctant that we didn’t have ample enough time to watch their love rekindle. In retrospect, I felt like these two had a sudden realization, where as over time the two slowly worked towards reuniting. I would have liked some more hints to help the two of them out and make readers feel like they were moving towards something incredible. For the most part I was trying to convince myself that I was way in over my head if I thought these two might actually find their happily ever after in each other because I felt like the long-lost love was just that: lost, like, really lost. This also made the novel was more interesting, though, because I kept trying to find things that told me there was hope.
The Last Best Kiss sheds light on a question I think is pivotal to life and something we all at a young age aren’t too sure of: whose happiness is more valuable? Yours, or that of one you love? I liked seeing the struggle for Anna to put her best friend and the boy she loved ahead of herself while still finding happiness on her own and recognizing her worth. I think it’s a great lesson for teens to understand that while the happiness of others is important, personal happiness is just as valuable.
Anyone looking for a typical romance about second chances and finding happiness will love LaZebnik’s latest.