The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik
The Skinny: 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. – From Goodreads
BFF?: Anna Elliott. What can I say about you? There were times when I really liked her – she was smart and savvy and caring and deep. I loved how she had moments of taking charge and being assertive, truly being her own person. It was a good change from some characters we can see in contemporary. But then there were other times when I felt like she was… well… one of THOSE girls. Judgy, a little mean, hypocritical, worried about what others thought. Which, I guess is this point since this is a retelling of Persuasion and we all know what Anne Elliott’s mistakes were…
Readability: Starting out I was nervous it was going to be a little TOO YA (ie juvenile) because Anna’s voice was just very young. But after the first several pages it got much, much better and I found myself really enjoying her voice and reading.
Crush Level: 6
Let’s take a look at 9th grade Finn: nerdy, tiny, awkward, adorable, good kisser. I don’t remember much about boys from 9th grade, but I’m assuming the good majority of them probably fit somewhere in the same category as Finn. Not really the man of your dreams but certainly a good guy. Cut to 12th grade Finn: bigger, less nerdy, charming, adorable. Certainly more like the man of your dreams. But for me, there was something about him that didn’t really cut it. I think because a lot of his charm felt fake to me, like he was just showing off for Anna so she would feel bad for snubbing him. Which… is true. That’s actually what the book is about. But it was hard to really fall for him, despite him having several moments of pure adorableness.
Typically if I’m going to read a retelling it’s a fairy tale, so I was excited to find out that this was a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion (I happen to be reading that right now too!). I really enjoy the story and loved seeing it in a modern setting.
If you know anything about Persuasion you’ll know that the Elliott family is the biggest group of dysfunctional people you will ever meet. And they were one of my favorite parts of this book.
Anna’s “Oh Snap!” moment
You’ll have to highlight this because it’s slightly spoilery: Ginny Clay is Anna’s assistant art teacher who is so annoying and says “Oh Anna” all the time – like in a pitying way that drives Anna insane. There’s a scene where Ginny gets caught doing something and she turns to Anna for support and Anna comes back with an “Oh Ginny” and it. is. perfection.
Commencement Speech: I was a little apprehensive going into this book because the beginning felt a little young for me (not bad, just young (hello I’m 31 reading a book written for teens)) but I’m glad I stuck with it because it was super cute. I loved seeing all the elements of Persuasion and comparing different characters to Austen’s characters. It was very well done.
My only complaint is that there were some “preachy” moments in the book on some hot button issues – namely gays and acceptance and drugs – that felt slightly forced. Only slightly though; definitely not enough to make the book bad for me.
If you’re a fan of Persuasion, or even if you’re not, I highly suggest this one. It’s fun, light, cute, and honestly just a really good read.
Yearbook Quote: “Here’s the thing,” he whispers. “I love John Green as much as the next gay teen. But the whole manic-pixie-dream-girl thing? It gets a little annoying in real life.”
I know I usually don’t put in ARC quotes, but this gem just needed to be shared!
Superlatives – Best reason why you should just say no
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