A Story of Finding Forever After Death
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Young adult author Deb Caletti recently released her latest teen novel, The Last Forever. This is her tenth young adult novel.
The Last Forever drops in on the story of Tessa and her father, who are struggling – and failing – to cope with Tessa’s mother’s death. Tessa’s father decides to embark on an impromptu road trip to his childhood home in a small coastal town in Washington. On her first day living with the grandmother she has never met before, Tessa wakes up to discover that her father has run off, leaving no explanation or return date.
The only familiarity she has is the one-of-a-kind pixiebell plant that has been passed down from her grandfather to her mother and finally to her. Tessa has made it her mission to help the plant survive and carry on the legacy that was passed down to her. However, while in Washington, the plant begins to wither. Tessa scrambles to find a way to save it, meeting several people along the way, such as Henry Lark, who are as dedicated to preserving the only pixiebell plant as much as she is.
While the novel is marketed as love story, the pixiebell plant is the true center of The Last Forever. The novel is not about a teenage relationship, but rather the struggle of a broken family to move beyond grief, to find a reason to continue living and surviving after the devastating death of a loved one.
Each chapter begins with the scientific name of a plant species, along with a description that starts out with scientific facts, but eventually trails off into Tessa’s sarcastic narration of what is occurring in the story at the time. Caletti presents Tessa as an extremely likable and relatable character, and she does a good job of portraying Tessa’s grief and resilience through understatement and subtlety.
While this novel may initially be written off as just another chick-lit book, it should not be. Although young adult fiction often gets a bad reputation for being shallow and too concerned with romance, Caletti’s novels contain messages and morals that are far more mature and universal than people may expect in teen fiction.
In the end, The Last Forever is a moving novel that shows that leading a fulfilling life after unimaginable grief is ultimately possible.