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.
If you don’t already know, I’m big on appreciating fluffy teen reads. This being the third novel I’ve read by Claire LaZebnik, I knew not to expect anything perfect or amazing. I did, however, expect something cute and lighthearted with The Last Best Kiss, and it’s exactly what I got with a little bit extra.
“It’s hard to be different when you’re still trying to figure out who you even are.”
The book begins when Anna Eliot was younger, in ninth grade to be specific. She’s trying hard to fit in and to gain friends despite the fact that she has Finn Westbrook, this nerdy boy who adores her completely for who she is. Too naïve to realize that what others say doesn’t really matter, Anna makes some bad decisions, ultimately breaking Finn’s heart, causing him to flee. When he finally comes back, even Anna’s friends are crushing on him because he’s way cuter than before. Too bad for Anna that he hasn’t forgotten how she hurt him yet which spells complication especially when Anna’s still not over the cute geek who loved showing her cool pictures and sharing science facts, the one who also gave her her last best kiss.
“What are the right words to say after you’ve made someone feel like his attention is an embarrassment to you?”
There are two things I like about LaZebnik’s books generally: 1.) Her characters have convincing teenage voices and 2.) I love peeking into Austen’s novels through her retellings! As someone who hasn’t read Persuasion (or anything by Austen actually), which inspired The Last Best Kiss, I can’t attest how accurate the retelling was but I did like the aspect of it. As for her characters- I found them interesting. They’re a weird bunch and sometimes I had no clue why they were the way they were, especially the side characters, but Finn and Anna were quite endearing. Sure, Anna and her friends could be considered ‘superficial’, with their caring too much about physical appearances to the point that Anna snubbed Finn just because he wasn’t good-looking back then. It’s terrible, but it does happen in real life. We make mistakes and hurt people and feeling guilty sometimes doesn’t cut it. Anna learns that and The Last Best Kiss is ultimately about her getting a second chance with Finn (who is a great btw) and becoming a better person.
“If you don’t let yourself feel what’s actually going on at any given moment – if you’re always looking for the next rush – you get numb and stop feeling anything.”
I appreciated how LaZebnik addressed several issues here and there but kept the tone of her story light. She slowly developed her characters (especially Anna, who had some attitude change), through a plot with a good flow and believable high school dynamics, which was nice. There were some moments that were quite predictable and sometimes the minor characters fell flat but basically, I still enjoyed this one despite my misgivings. The Last Best Kiss emphasized how important it is to be true to yourself and was a pretty sweet read as a whole.