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The Last Forever Hardcover – April 1, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Tessa's mom recently died. Before her junior year of high school finishes for the summer, she and her dad leave on an impromptu road trip that leads them to a small coastal town in Washington State. Here, the teen is able to confront her feelings of loss and begin the task of accepting new family relationships, friendships, and a burgeoning romance. When her new buddies embark on a journey to help her save the one thing that is most important to her (her mother's plant), Tessa finds the power within to move on because "good things can sit in the distance, just beyond your view, waiting until you go toward it." Caletti creates a wonderfully unique voice in Tessa, filled with wit, confusion, and mature reflection. The mood isn't all somber and confusing; through realistic dialogue and even pacing, readers get a true sense of Tessa's growth as a young woman. Teens get to know the diverse cast of supporting characters through her lens, including a bisexual character. Each chapter opens with a seed description, and the climax relates to the fate of Tessa's mom's plant. It is through these devices that Caletti explores the idea of longevity and "lasting forever."—Stephanie DeVincentis, Downers Grove North High School, IL
*Starred Review* Can an impromptu road trip heal two broken hearts? It doesn’t seem likely to Tess, who’s lost her mother to cancer and now lives with her pot-smoking, tie-dye-wearing father; he’s well meaning, if immature. But a road trip from San Bernardino to the Grand Canyon it is. Only her father doesn’t stop there, continuing on to Oregon and then north to a small coastal town, home to his mother, Jenny, whom Tess hasn’t seen in 15 years. Her father up and leaves Tess at Jenny’s, off to who-knows-where, and she’s forced to make sense of how to adjust to her new surroundings, while her heart remains very much at home and with her mother. Along for the ride is a rare plant—a pixiebell—which may be the last of its kind. It’s survived since Tess’s grandfather stole the seed at a party long ago and has moved with her mother through four decades; only now, under Tess’ care, it’s starting to wilt. When she meets Henry at the library, there’s an instant attraction, and together, they work to save the pixiebell. At the start of each chapter is a short, explanatory chapter about a seed, which ties into the novel’s theme of rebirth, healing, and growth. Caletti writes movingly here, particularly as Tess reflects on her mother’s final days, and offers up a surprising story about love, loss, and putting down roots in a world that’s constantly changing.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Caletti has a sizable fan base—and they’ll all be waiting. Grades 8-12. --Ann Kelley
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Top customer reviews
Where to begin?…
“It is one of those moments where there is so much to say that there is nothing to say, no adequate words, anyway, to speak it all.”
There is a reason why I rush out and buy Deb Caletti’s novels the instant they hit shelves. Her stories have a way of seeping into my heart, my very soul, and remaining. Something about her stories is magical. They always manage to be exactly what I need when I need it most. I can always find a bit of myself in the main characters – and I am pulled in so strongly that the story becomes my own.
‘The Last Forever’ is everything I wanted it to be and more. I expected to read a love story, and a story about personal growth. Yes, ‘The Last Forever’ is a love story. But not in the way you’d expect. And yes, it involves a character who learns and grows, just like we all continue to do. The story is something real, pure, and ultimately, refreshing. Therapeutic, even. It is not your typical “boy-loves-girl-and-girl-falls-for-boy-and-they-live-happily-ever-after” story. It is a story about love. Real love. Love that lasts forever, through thick and thin, throughout heartbreak and missed opportunities and disappointments. Through everything. Long after we are gone, love will live on. And there is comfort in that. Comfort that I, as the reader, felt so strongly I cried. Comfort that Tess, our main character, was finally able to accept.
“True love, even if just in your head, can make you forget how badly things actually suck.”
Yes, Tess falls in love with a boy in this story. But the story really isn’t about their love. It is about Tess’s love for her mother. The heartache she continues to feel because this love is so strong, and her mother is gone. It is about Tess’s love for her father. The disappointment she feels when he isn’t there when she needs him, and the realization that he really was there all along. It is about Tess’s love for herself. Her willingness to let go of her mistakes, let go of her regrets, and only hang on to what matters.
“Endings and beginnings sit so close to each other that it’s sometimes impossible to tell which is which.”
‘The Last Forever’ is Caletti’s story. It is Tess’s story. It is my story, and yours. It is a story we can fall in love with, a story to become our own – become a part of us. And in that sense, it is a story that will last forever.
The Last Forever by Deb Caletti is the story of a girl named Tess, and the people who have influenced her the most: her parents, each absent in a different way; her grandmother, who she hasn't seen since she was a toddler; and someone she never saw coming. The summer between Tessa's junior and senior years of high school is a summer filled with unexpected, unforgettable things.
Six months after her mother dies, Tessa's father decides that they should go on an impromptu road trip. Even though there's still a few weeks of school left, and even though Tess is nowhere near as impulsive as her somewhat irresponsible father, she agrees to the trip, thinking it'll be nice to blow off steam for a few days.
But what begins as a tourist-y jaunt from San Bernardino, California to the Grand Canyon continues on to Las Vegas, then to Portland, Oregon, where her dad grew up. Then her dad takes off without warning, leaving Tess stranded with a grandmother she barely knows.
Tess surprises herself by becoming comfortable not only with her artistic, lively grandma but also with her new surroundings. She falls in love with this little neighborhood where everyone knows everyone. Tess bonds very quickly with an boy her age named Henry Lark. Often found in the library, which is also one of Tess' favorite haunts, Henry is extremely smart and kind, and this friendship is a wonderful comfort to Tess.
Tess brought her most precious possession with her on this trip: the last pixiebell, a plant that her mother cared for, raised from a seed that her mother's father stole (!) while attending a party oh so many years ago. Caring for the plant gives Tess a connection to her mother, so when the pixiebell starts to wilt, Tess herself begins to crumble. With help from various townspeople (and no one is more helpful than Henry), they try to find a way to save the pixiebell - and, by extension, save Tess and her family.
The Last Forever by Deb Caletti is about finding your roots, and planting your own. It's about grief, and hope, and truth, and family. It's about the choices that are made for us, and the choices we make for ourselves. It's about celebrating what you have, honoring what you have, and knowing who you are.
Once again, Deb Caletti reminds us to embrace both the beauty and the pain in unexpected moments and in the most important parts of life. Whereas some books (and movies, and other types of stories) pile up coincidences for the sake of "high stakes" and/or happy endings, the revelations in The Last Forever are plausible, realistic, and that's why they resonate so deeply. The time we spend with Tess is time well spent.
Most recent customer reviews
A 2.5 but I rounded to a 3. This was a cute story but didn't have much to it.Read more
In Deb Caletti's The Last Forever, Tessa is dealing with the grief of loosing her mother when her quirky but lost father...Read more
Deb Caletti is an author that I’ve been reading for quite a few years now, and eagerly anticipate each and every...Read more