REVIEW: The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen

by - 1:55 PM

“I return the photo, shut the box, and push it all under the bed. No matter what Jason went through, no matter how much her leaving messed him up, it doesn’t excuse what happened. Nothing does.”

Back of the book blurb:

Liz Grant is about to have the summer of her life. She and her friend MacKenzie are getting invited to all the best parties, and with any luck, Innis Taylor, the most gorgeous guy in Bonneville, will be her boyfriend before the Fourth of July.
Local teen convict released early.
Jason Sullivan wasn’t supposed to come back from juvie. A million years ago, he was her best friend, but that was before he ditched her for a different crowd. Before he attacked Innis’s older brother, leaving Skip’s face burned and their town in shock.
“Everything is not what you think.”
Liz always found it hard to believe what they said about Jason, but all of Bonneville thinks he’s dangerous. If word gets out she’s seeing him, she could lose everything. But what if there’s more to that horrible night than she knows? And how many more people will get hurt when the truth finally comes out?
“You’re the one person who believes in me.”
Leah Konen’s southern romance swelters with passion as it explores the devastating crush of lies, the delicate balance of power and perception, and one girl’s journey to find herself while uncovering the secrets of so many others.

A message from the cosmos:

Publication Date: May 10, 2016

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 368
ISBN:  9780062402479

Available for Purchase:

My rating:

            What an incredible debut novel! Props to Leah Konen. I fell in love with The Last Time We Were Us right from the cover. Honestly, this summer has given us so many incredible covers for novels and we still have so many coming! I’m stoked.

            We meet our two protagonists right from the beginning when Liz runs into her old best friend Jason at a gas station where he is currently employed, only because they were the only establishment that would hire ex-cons. Sounds juicy, right?

“We could never be us again, not the way we were. Because too many things have changed since the last time we stared at the sky together.”

            The chemistry between Liz and Jason is palpable from the beginning. It was so easy to tell that they had been best friends since they were kids. Of course, the distrust and uncertainty was also there—at least on Liz’s part, and she had every right to be that way. Jason plead guilty to burning his friend’s face. Still, Liz has known Jason practically her entire life… she knew there was more the story.

“Lizzie or Liz, it doesn’t matter—I can only ever be me. I can only ever follow my own heart.”

            Just like with Jason, Liz sees the best in everyone. And I love that quality… especially in her. Of course, it can get you into so much trouble and it does get Liz into trouble… honestly, I don’t even want to talk about the fuckface that is Innis Taylor. But ya know what? I’m going to anyway! I knew he was creepy. I’m sorry… I know I’m spoiling things right now and I feel bad, but GOD. I NEED TO VENT. I knew right from the beginning he wasn’t a good guy. He seemed controlling, douche-y, and just all around not a very good guy. He is so entitled and I wanted Liz to get her head out of her ass and DUMP HIM. That’s where seeing the best in people can be difficult and harmful.

“What she doesn’t understand, and what she may never understand, is that I’m finally at the point where I have to start trusting myself.”

            Other than that, I was head over heels for Liz. She had so many amazing internal thoughts and her intentions were always harmless. And I want to give props to Leah Konen for crafting such a well-developed and three-dimensional character. Especially because it is so important for teens to have their feelings validated. When you’re young, all of your elders believe your feelings aren’t real because you “aren’t an adult” or you “haven’t lived” enough. And everyone in Liz’s life was disregarding her feelings and intentions, especially when it came to Jason because he was obviously dangerous and Liz just “saw the best in everyone.” It’s true, she did see the best in everyone, but she knew deep down in her gut that Jason wasn’t a horrible person. And when your feelings are constantly invalidated, how are you ever going to learn to trust yourself and your own instincts? I’m so glad Liz found that on her own. Sorry, I kind of went on a tangent but LIZ GRANT DESERVES ALL OF THE TANGENTS!

“I want to teach her that the whole boyfriend thing isn’t important, that you can be your fabulous self and that’s all you need.”

            Like I said, Liz is so important and she has so many great and important beliefs and she wants to pass them on to everyone she knows. It’s such an amazing journey, Liz’s. And again, I’m so glad Liz finally realized that you have to trust yourself and you have to make yourself happy before anything.

“Maybe I’m being unfair—even naïve—but you can’t choose who you care about, no matter how much you want to, no matter how much you tell yourself otherwise, no matter, even, if you sleep with them.”

            I absolutely adored Liz’s story, but I also really loved Jason and Liz’s story together. There’s something so pure about their relationship and how it goes from young kids being paired together because of their parents, to fumbling preteens, to them drifting because of school hierarchy, to them finally coming back together and having to relearn each other. Their arc is absolutely incredible and I could’ve read so much more about them.

            The Last Time We Were Us is an incredibly important novel and I believe everyone should read it! Especially anyone who is struggling with their identity and trusting themselves. It’ll help tremendously.

Happy Reading!
The Cosmic Reader

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