My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal
What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy?
Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss--the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died--is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn't a suicide as everyone assumes. She can't remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she's worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.
If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she'll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made--good and bad--that led to her last kiss.
Bethany Neal's suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.
Publishes in US: June 10th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre: Ghost story contemp feeling
Source: MacMillan via NetGalley
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I wanted to read this because I enjoy these sort of "ghost" or afterlife stories. It is a spin-off of the amnesia because it becomes a quest for her to figure out what led to her death and if her last kiss was with the wrong guy.
It drew me in right away because Cassidy has a voice that feels natural. She is in really stressful place because she is watching her death scene and then ends up in the morgue with her own body. Then she visits family and the boy who was her perfect first kiss. She does what she calls melting when she has the flashbacks of memories. She feels wet and then her body starts to disappear and she "wakes up" in a new place and time. Some of the memories are from further back but most are giving us the pieces of the puzzle in the weeks leading up to her death.
I liked the friendship it drew between Cass, Aimee, and Madison. They had a group that was close, and really knew each other. Their quirks, how their emotions are displayed or hidden. Aimee and Madison both grieve differently but they get on a mission to figure out what happened to her, and are denying the rumor that she committed suicide because they feel like the friend they knew wouldn't do that, and she seemed drunk but def not depressed at the party right before Cassidy died. Though I was surprised at the part that one of the friends in Cass' circle played into the party, the different people on the bridge with Cassidy and maybe even the one behind trying to break up Ethan and Cassidy.
The romance between Ethan and Cassidy was so sweet. I loved the way they were together in the flashbacks. But things started to change and we get the impression that there was another guy, and there was also a rumor that they were breaking up but Cassidy didn't know anything about it. So, it was hard to give in to the romance completely because I don't know if Ethan was planning to break up with her, or if she cheated on him with her last kiss. Or was there a last kiss (at 20% I am speculating this, I have no idea.)
There were a few things that caused me to rate down a bit. There weren't explanations for why Ethan was special in that ***minor spoiler--highlight to read*** only he could see Cassidy. I know they were together but there could be some sort of explanation. There was love between her and her parents, friends, etc. Then there were some times when the reveals felt like filler. There were some of the flashbacks that I liked because it gave us history with Cass and Ethan, Cass and her friends, as well as her and her family.
I saw a lot of growth in Cassidy. While at the beginning she seemed like I could relate to her, and I certainly wanted to get to the bottom of her reason for being a ghost. As I got some of the flashbacks it became a little bit harder to like her with some of her actions. But I can also get that we all make mistakes and do things in the heat of the moment that we'll regret or doesn't tell the full story who we are. But still, I can see how she realizes that and that she sees things in a new way. Ultimately though, what made me completely go there with her was as much as she tried to rationalize everything she did wrong (and admit it, we all do things wrong) I could see why she made the decisions she did. And at the end, she accepted that she'd messed up, owned it, and did her best to make it all as right as possible.
While there is the semi love triangle and some cheating, it never bothered me like it usually does, and I don't know if I understand that when you have a friend or boyfriend who seems so good and has a good family it is hard to confide about your own new issues at home. And how it can be easy to mix up childhood nostalgia for feelings you can act on when the other person has been in your life so long and cares so much for you.
The book really kept me guessing right up until the end, so even with the bits of repetition, I can look back and see that there are elements that really did add to the big picture. Each character played their part in the whole story and most of them really do have reason to feel at least a little guilty over all that led up to that point.
My question to you, my lovely readers:
Do you believe in ghosts?