Review: THE LAST TO LET GO by Amber Smith

The Last to Let Go

by Amber Smith

Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
384 pages
Genre: YA
3.5 / 5

My Review:

Amber Smith makes you rethink what a domestic tragedy looks like. She makes you see the tragedy of a father abusing a mother and driving away an eldest child. She makes you see the glimmer of hope when the mother kills that father. And then she makes you see the tragedy of the legal system not quite agreeing that this was a justified homicide.

I liked how Smith showed Brooke’s determination to be independent, even as she desperately needs her brother and sister. Brooke is more than just a confused, conflicted teen. She is someone who cannot, as the title implies, let go.

In Brooke, Smith has a heroine who is intellectually exceptional but emotionally stunted. That Brooke cannot give up her notions of what she thinks she and, particularly, her sister need is not due to any romanticized vision of family but rather a desperation to just feel normal. Normal high school girls don’t live with guardians. They don’t visit their mothers in prison. They don’t bury their fathers because their mothers murdered those fathers. They live at home, with their brothers and sisters.

There are pacing issues in this book, times when the plot lines felt repetitive and slow. This is not a book for people looking to feel happy; the sadness that permeates nearly every page stops that wish in a hurry. Yet Brooke, frustrating though she is on occasion, is someone you dearly hope figures out how to be happy. How to let go.


A twisted tragedy leaves Brooke and her siblings on their own in this provocative new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Way I Used To Be.

How do you let go of something you’ve never had?

Junior year for Brooke Winters is supposed to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind.

But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. No one really knows what happened that day, if it was premeditated or self-defense, whether it was right or wrong. And now Brooke and her siblings are on their own.

In a year of firsts—the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom—Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go.

About the Author:

Amber Smith grew up in Buffalo, New York and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her two dogs. Fueled by a lifelong passion for the arts, story, and creative expression, Amber graduated from art school with a BFA in Painting and went on to earn her master’s degree in Art History. When she’s not writing she’s usually reading, but can also be found in her studio making art or freelancing as an art consultant. She has also written on the topics of art history and modern and contemporary art.

Her debut novel, The Way I Used to Be was a New York Timesbestseller. Look out for her next book, The Last to Let Go, which will be released February 6, 2018 from Simon & Schuster’s Margaret K. McElderry Books.

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Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.


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