The Last Time We Were Us
Liz Grant is about to have the summer of her life. She and her friend MacKenzie are getting invited to all the best parties, and with any luck, Innis Taylor, the most gorgeous guy in Bonneville, will be her boyfriend before the Fourth of July.
Local teen convict released early.
Jason Sullivan wasn’t supposed to come back from juvie. A million years ago, he was her best friend, but that was before he ditched her for a different crowd. Before he attacked Innis’s older brother, leaving Skip’s face burned and their town in shock.
“Everything is not what you think.”
Liz always found it hard to believe what they said about Jason, but all of Bonneville thinks he’s dangerous. If word gets out she’s seeing him, she could lose everything. But what if there’s more to that horrible night than she knows? And how many more people will get hurt when the truth finally comes out?
“You’re the one person who believes in me.”
Leah Konen’s southern romance swelters with passion as it explores the devastating crush of lies, the delicate balance of power and perception, and one girl’s journey to find herself while uncovering the secrets of so many others.
Leah Konen does a really great job at capturing the teenage spirit. The desire to be popular, the fights between friends, the plans of preparation for senior year, all seem genuine. Without trivializing the characters in any way, the author also does not make them too mature, too intelligent, or too perfect either. This phenomenon of exceptionally developed teenagers seems to be the recent trend in young adult novels, which, in my opinion, detracts from the coming-of-age elements of the story. Konen pens great high schoolers who are still learning about life, but in many cases, can still teach the adults a thing or two.
I also love the instantaneous chemistry between Liz and Jason. Generally, I have to wait for the majority of a novel for a love story to play out and for the characters to develop feelings. Liz and Jason’s relationship is different, which makes it quite refreshing. However, since Jason’s character is developed primarily in a retrospective way, through Liz’s memories, I would have liked to know more about him now that he is out of jail.
The book itself is a quick read, as well as engaging, mysterious, and a lot of fun. My main problem with it, however, is how similar it is to the novel Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles. While enough of the details are different, the main plotlines follow analogous trajectories. The Last Time We Were Us is the less edgy, less dramatic version. With that being said, the book is still very enjoyable. It is set during the summer and perfect for carting along to the beach.