The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely
I picked up The Last True Love Story because it was reviewed in Book Page, a magazine that I found at my local library. It had such a good write-up that I bought it and sent it to my nieces, who then asked me if I had read the book myself. So, of course, I knew I needed to read it, too.
Publisher’s Description: The point of living is learning how to love.
That’s what Gpa says. To Hendrix and Corrina, both seventeen but otherwise alike only in their loneliness, that sounds like another line from a pop song that tries to promise kids that life doesn’t actually suck. Okay, so: love. Sure.
The thing about Corrina—her adoptive parents are suffocating, trying to mold her into someone acceptable, predictable, like them. She’s a musician, itching for any chance to escape, become the person she really wants to be. Whoever that is.
And Hendrix, he’s cool. Kind of a poet. But also kind of lost. His dad is dead and his mom is married to her job. Gpa is his only real family, but he’s fading fast from Alzheimer’s. Looking for any way to help the man who raised him, Hendrix has made Gpa an impossible promise—that he’ll get him back east to the hill where he first kissed his wife, before his illness wipes away all memory of her.
One hot July night, Hendrix and Corrina decide to risk everything. They steal a car, spring Gpa from his assisted living facility, stuff Old Humper the dog into the back seat, and take off on a cross-country odyssey from LA to NY. With their parents, Gpa’s doctors, and the police all hot on their heels, Hendrix and Corrina set off to discover for themselves if what Gpa says is true—that the only stories that last are love stories.
Possible spoilers beyond this point.
Agent Annie says…
The first part of The Last True Love Story is definitely a teen read. I didn’t find that I was all that interested in the common road trip book with a bit of romance thrown in. However, I did enjoy the addition of Gpa, who has Alzheimer’s disease and is the catalyst for the road tip to start with.
Once the group makes it to St. Louis, things begin to change, and not only for the characters; I started to feel more engaged with them and the outcome of their relationships. At one point Teddy realizes,
“The most important truths aren’t the ones you learn, but the ones you tell so the person you care about most knows, too.”
This sentence is an example of why this book is a success for adults as well as teens. It speaks to core relationships that continue throughout our lives.
At some point, I realized how good the writing is, how lyrical. I think the sentence that brought my attention to it was:
“At first the road is still dry, then rain approaches from the north, its wet breath hovering at the edge of the road, waiting, but then the highway bends, and we drive straight into the storm, its smoky arms wrapping around us, pulling us in.”
I particularly liked the poetry that Teddy writes at the end of the story. I give this book a 4.