Deb Caletti is one prodigious author! She’s probably most known for Honey, Baby, Sweetheart—which was a National Book Award Finalist when it was published in 2004—but over the years since, she’s been continuously writing away. This week, Riveted is featuring two of Deb’s books, an extended excerpt of Essential Maps for the Lost and a full read of The Last Forever. There’s been a lot of discussion about Essential Maps for the Lost on Riveted and Deb’s shared two great guest posts with us about it (On the Inspiration for Essential Maps for the Lost and The Quiet Power of Books) but I wanted to take moment to talk about the stellar read that is The Last Forever! If you’ve not read it, now is the perfect opportunity and here are six reasons why you should get moving:
1. Full of Fun Facts
The book is full of interesting facts. Like, did you know that there’s a place called Svalbard that stores all of the world’s rarest seeds in the depths of a big mountain, should certain species go extinct? My mind was blown.
Each chapter starts with a description of a particular seed and the history behind it. You’ll notice that these descriptions are oddly similar to the themes of each chapter and are woven throughout the book…Deb Caletti thought of everything when she wrote this, I swear!
2. The Writing Is On Point
Deb’s writing is so amazing you can’t help but get sucked into the story right from the get-go. Her characters’ feelings and surroundings are written with such descriptiveness, it pulls you into Tessa’s world. You know these characters. They are your family, your friends, your crushes.
3. It’s About to get Personal…
In the book, Tessa has lost her mother and is coming to terms with the loss while she deals with her father who’s growing more and more distant. It’s complex, it’s raw, and it’s handled with honesty, truth, and heart. But also with humor and wit.
When I first read the book, it was a few months after the devastating loss of my grandfather. He was like a father to me, my mentor, my world. Through reading The Last Forever, I realized that grieving was/is a unique experience to every person, that that was alright and that I wasn’t the only one who was/is struggling. That everyone is struggling, in their own way.
This is a book for anyone who has ever grieved a loss of any kind. Not just the loss of someone special in their lives. What I mean is, have you ever had to move? Leave your friends behind? Forced to try new things you didn’t want to try? Having to let go of something you were passionate about? Really, this book is what you’re looking for to help you (cope!) and you didn’t even know it.
4. So relatable!
The Last Forever is full of complex relationships we can all relate to: The situation between Tessa and her dad; meeting a grandmother she knew nothing about and discovering things about her family she never knew. Getting to know new people in town while making new friends. Having a new crush…and also a boyfriend you’re kind of “meh” about, who slowly goes on the backburner and fades away with the life you left behind…
Here’s a little secret: I love reading but I’m also a reluctant reader. Seems like an oxymoron, I guess. But it’s a real thing. I have the best intentions, but if it doesn’t grip me within the first 5 chapters, my eyes gloss over. With this book, it’s impossible to do that with. There are so many intriguing plot points you’re invested in from the start. Tessa’s life is turned upside down with grief and loss, but she’s forced into an adventure that she doesn’t know is actually the best thing that could happen to her.
6. Some quotes, because if my praise wasn’t enough, her writing will get you. Period.
When you start reading this, take out your highlighter, because there are so many quotable passages, the whole book will be lit up. Here are a few of my favorites:
“What should never be forgotten is this: Even when times are dark, the darkest, even when you are sure that life as you know it is over, there are still things that last.”
“People have their own way of getting through things, and that’s that.”
“I think about how few people I really have—at least the kind of people who are a fortress, a vault, the kind of people who will be there, always. The kind of people you can count on to keep you from falling miles and miles.”
“Good can sit in the distance, just beyond your view, waiting until you go toward it. You must go toward it. That’s another thing I learned.”
Okay, Now that I have you in tears. Let’s perk it up with a few lighter ones:
In regards to eating a banana cream pie, “The meringue on top is tall enough to go on the rides at Disneyland.”
“I could be one of those people who freak out when they hear profanity, as if they’ve just been deflowered by vocabulary.”
And one of my fave descriptions of one of her dad’s lighters… “It’s a fast-food yellow, the shade of one of those plastic lemons with the juice inside.”
This book wraps everything into a beautifully written little package of perfection. Emotion, grief, understanding, humor, reality, love, truth. Gah! Seriously, stop reading this and start reading the book. You will thank me…forever.