The Last Three Words by Ashley Heckman
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (65 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
Seventeen-year-old Christian Marx never belonged anywhere but with his best friend Maye. Life with her beats the hell out of the dingy apartment he shares with his neglectful mother. Mom may be blood, but Maye and her little sister Rowe are family. Life would be perfect if only Maye loved him the way he loved her.
Last night, she did. Today, she’s dead—a tragic accident no one could have predicted.
With Maye gone, it’s up to those she left behind to figure out how to move on. Only one person can drag Christian away from the ledge. Only one person can save Maye’s little sister from making a huge mistake.
Sometimes the only way to un-break yourself is to fix someone else.
Love is eternal. Sometimes so is grief.
What surprised me the most about this book was how Christian’s emotional attachment to Maye pops up in the most unexpected places. This is not a particularly sentimental novel, yet from the very first scene there are understated cues pointing to a bond that even death can’t sever. Sometimes grief amplifies deeply seated personality traits, and the author does a great job quietly showing how everyone who loved Maye reacts to her death in emotionally healthy and unhealthy manners.
The narrative switches among three different first-person perspectives and occasionally jumps from the present to the past. While these techniques provide important background information, there were times when I found all of the shifts jarring. They happened so often that they sometimes slowed down the progression of the plot. In addition, the voices of the three characters who describe what has or is happening to them sound so similar that had they not been labelled I would have had a difficult time telling them apart.
For a story of this length restricting the point of view to one – or, at most, two – narrators would have freed up more space to explore what happens to Maye and how her family and friends honor her memory and learn to express their grief. The concept is intriguing, but as it was written I spent too much time adjusting to new speakers for a piece of this length.
The paranormal elements in this tale are subtle and well-suited to the storyline. They play their role in what happens without ever overpowering the often fragile connections between the characters. By far the most compelling scenes occur when the ordinary world brushes against forces it doesn’t necessarily understand.
The Last Three Words is a stunningly accurate portrayal of grief. I’d recommend this book to anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one or who would like to step inside the head of someone who is grieving in order to better understand why they sometimes act in seemingly illogical ways.