The Last Best Kiss
by Claire LaZebnik Published by HarperCollins
on 2014-04-22 Genres: Classic Retelling
, Young Adult Pages:
ARC Source: ARC borrowed thru Around the World ARC Tours Add to 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.
~ I’ve previously only read The Trouble With Flirting by LaZebnik, but it was love at first book with this author. I made all my friends read the book, just because it was that much fun. She’s an amazing writer and I love how she retells classic Jane Austen tales. So expect there to be a lot of gushing in this review.
~ based on the Jane Austen book Persuasion (which was not my favorite Austen book, but one I’ve come to appreciate more the older I get).
~ Anna’s family is horrible, with the exception of Molly, so don’t expect to like them. Unless you find yourself relating to Lizzie and Mr. Eliot… but of course, you probably wouldn’t be reading my blog if you were anything like them, because this isn’t a fashion blog. Unless you consider dressing my books with lazy cats high fashion? Because I do have pics of that.
~ All the cuteness! Anna meets Finn in a carpool, and the two share a backseat. Finn is a total science nerd, always showing Anna pics of planets and close-ups of dust mites, but it’s totally adorable.
~ Anna and Finn are only 9th graders when they meet, and Anna is still very much a follower. At 15 she cares very much about her friends and their approval, because Finn’s in that awkward short geek phase, she keeps their growing romance a secret from everybody.
~ Oh, the drama of high school dances! Anna breaks Finn’s heart, but in a way that is probably happening somewhere right now it’s so realistic, and casually cruel. Girl is gonna regret that!
~ Yup, she does! Anna never gets a chance to patch things up because Finn shuts her out and then moves away.
~ Flash forward and Anna is still full of regret for lost love when Finn moves back to town.
~ Now that she’s older, Anna is much more her own person. She’s quiet, an artist, and a good friend. Finn coming back kind of throws her off her game, but I would like to point out that as much as this is a romance, Anna doesn’t spend every moment of the book mooning over Finn. She’s got other stuff she deals with, like supporting her sister Molly, growing even more in character, working on her art.
~ Oh, Finn. You’re so cold. I mean, yes, you’re polite to Anna, but it’s so chilly. But I can’t blame him- the slights and hurts from our younger years really can mess with us.
~ LaZebnik does the little things so right- like Finn hearing Anna’s scream and running to her rescue before any of their friends even realize that something is going on (think of the Matthew MacFayden version of Pride and Prejudice, and his reaction to Mr. Darcy touching Lizzie Bennet’s bare hand- it’s such a small moment that still manages to make you swoon).
~ Anna’s romance isn’t the only one in the story, her friends and family members all deal with their own relationship foibles. Of course, the one between Mr. Eliot and Ms. Clay made me want to stab my eyes out, but their Persuasion counterparts left me feeling the same way, so good job, Ms. LaZebnik!
~ There’s so much I liked about this book- the kids standing in line to take their SAT’s, the concert weekend and everything that happens as a result- pretty much all of it.
~ Like Anna, Finn has a few character flaws he has to work out during the course of the book, because sometimes I wanted to slap him. Just a little.
~ Perhaps the only drawback was that I would have liked to see Marta. Really, that’s it.
~ Once again, I loved the dialogue between all the characters, LaZebnik is so good at this- it’s the way that real people talk to each other… only better.
~ Also, the book has some truly funny scenes, like when Lizzie comes home to do some laundry and finds something upsetting.
~ I just <3 this book. Read it now, please… or when it comes out. But until then, her other books are available!
Anna Eliot- our heroine, who once cared too much for public opinion (like most 15 year olds) and lost her love.
Finn Westbrook- the crush worthy nerd who got away, but who is now back!
Molly- eldest Eliot daughter, and confidant to Anna- dealing with her own relationship dramas.
Lizzie- middle Eliot daughter, favored and most beloved by their father, and just as socially shallow and Judgey McJudgerson as Mr. Eliot (the two of them could give Joan Rivers and the Fashion Police a run for their money)
Mr. Eliot- Anna’s father who cared enough to raise the girls after their mother went off, but cares mostly for himself, food, exercise and daughter Lizzie.
Marta- the housekeeper who pretty much raised the girls.
Lucy- Anna’s best friend
Lily and Hilary- twin friends of Anna’s, Lily is the manic pixie dream girl (or tries hard to be so) and Hilary is the more down to earth twin. Both girls show interest in Finn.
Wally- dates Molly, the two find themselves having relationship difficulties.
Ginny- art teacher at Anna’s school, friend of Lizzie’s, and a little too close to Mr. Eliot for this reader’s taste (bleh!)
Wade Porter- distant relative of Anna’s, he a handsome distraction once Finn comes back to town.
Other friends mentioned:
Phoebe, Camilla, Eric, Oscar, Jackson, James, etc. There are a lot of characters, but it’s pretty easy to keep track of them.
Anna at the hotel pool- she was so fierce and composed. It’s not often I find myself being proud of book characters, but I was proud how Anna acted in that moment. Her character really does grow up in the course of this book.
Stop the Clock:
I know that ya’ll probably have a million books on your tbr shelves (collectively, not individually… I hope!), but clear off some space at the top and fill it with LaZebnik. It’s like kitten therapy in book form. You need her books.
The Last Best Kiss gets a Midnight Book rating of: