Thursday, 8 September 2016

Review: The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely

The point of living is learning how to love.

That’s what Gpa says. To Hendrix and Corrina, both seventeen but otherwise alike only in their loneliness, that sounds like another line from a pop song that tries to promise kids that life doesn’t actually suck. Okay, so: love. Sure.

The thing about Corrina—her adoptive parents are suffocating, trying to mold her into someone acceptable, predictable, like them. She’s a musician, itching for any chance to escape, become the person she really wants to be. Whoever that is.

And Hendrix, he’s cool. Kind of a poet. But also kind of lost. His dad is dead and his mom is married to her job. Gpa is his only real family, but he’s fading fast from Alzheimer’s. Looking for any way to help the man who raised him, Hendrix has made Gpa an impossible promise—that he’ll get him back east to the hill where he first kissed his wife, before his illness wipes away all memory of her.

One hot July night, Hendrix and Corrina decide to risk everything. They steal a car, spring Gpa from his assisted living facility, stuff Old Humper the dog into the back seat, and take off on a cross-country odyssey from LA to NY. With their parents, Gpa’s doctors, and the police all hot on their heels, Hendrix and Corrina set off to discover for themselves if what Gpa says is true—that the only stories that last are love stories.

Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: September 13th 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry Books 
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy from Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

It was the synopsis that made me want to read this book. The idea of a boy (Teddy/Hendrix) springing his Gpa from his assisted living facility to take him back to where he had his first kiss with the love of his life before Alzheimer's wiped his memory completely sounded so endearing. On top of that, add the possibility of a new and young budding romance and I was all in. It sounded incredible.

What I liked about this book was the relationship between Teddy and his Gpa. Teddy was very loyal and dedicated to his Grandfather. He cared deeply for him and would do anything to keep his promise to him. The value of a promise was something instilled in him from his Gpa. So when the opportunity to take him home appeared before him he jumped at the chance even knowing that it would be difficult because of his Alzheimer's. The fact that the girl he was crushing on from afar would be going with them was just icing on the cake.

Unfortunately I wasn't the biggest fan of Corrina. I didn't hate her but I found her a little blah. Yes she was a musician but I found the song and artist references in the book to be a little extreme. Instead of referencing two or three artists or songs to get a point across to the reader, the author would list six or seven. Of course I knew most of the songs and artists referenced but I'm not so sure that the audience this book is marketed towards would. All of the song and name dropping gave Corrina a little bit of a robotic feel that in turn made it hard for me to feel her. The fact that I couldn't connect with her made me less excited about any kind of possible relationship with Teddy/Hendrix.

I was really, really hoping for more of Gpa and Gma's love story than what this book delivered. I feel like I would have enjoyed the road trip much more if I knew more of the past and what Gpa was so anxious to get back to. There were tiny snippets of the past but they felt more like teasers.

This book was alright but it left me craving a little bit more than what it delivered. I think high school aged readers would be best suited for this story minus the song references. It isn't one of those books that translates to all ages very well in my opinion. I liked it but I didn't love it.

About the Author
Brendan Kiely received an MFA in creative writing from The City College of New York. His writing has appeared in Fiction, Guernica, The AWP Writer’s Chronicle, and other publications. Originally from the Boston area, he now teaches at an independent high school and lives with his wife in Greenwich Village.

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