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November 25, 2016

Review: The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen

Review:  The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen

A passionate summer love story about a girl, her childhood best friend recently released from juvie, and the small-town lies that have kept them apart. A teen romance debut with a dark edge.

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.

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The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books  on May 10, 2016

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This title was provided to us by the Publisher/Author. We were in no way compensated for our review(s).

 

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Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Review

GabbyNewI’m always a sucker for romances set in the summer. Maybe it’s because as a teen I know that summer is honestly the most fun, freeing, and eagerly anticipated season (also, doesn’t it always feel like all of the best books come out during the summer months? But, anyways, irrelevant…). That being said, The Last Time We Were Us initially sounded like it would be my cup of tea. A summer romance between two ex-friends who are separated by a tragedy, and a mystery between his story, her story, and the truth? Count me in.

In The Last Time We Were Us, Liz hasn’t seen Jason ever since he left for Juvie due to assaulting another boy and burning him. With Jason gone, Liz has begun to live again, going to parties with her friends, and exploring a relationship with Innis Taylor, the guy of her dreams. Things with Innis have been going well, but when Jason—the same Jason who assaulted Innis’s brother, Skip—is released from Juvie early, everything changes. Jason and Liz begin to talk again, and Liz begins to wonder if the story she heard about Jason and Innis’s brother is true. As Liz continues her relationship with Innis and reconnects with Jason, she begins to uncover the truth about what happened to Jason and is forced to come to terms with the secrets that have been kept from her.

Initially, I really thought that The Last Time We Were Us would be a fun, charming read. For the first ten percent or so of the novel, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but slowly, my opinion of the novel began to change. I soon realized that The Last Time We Were Us was not going to quite be my cup of tea.

I should mention that Konen’s prose does hold potential. I definitely thought that the writing in The Last Time We Were Us has the potential to be very strong and engaging in a different setting. However, in The Last Time We Were Us, I could not handle being inside of Liz’s head. Every chapter ended on an overdramatic note, and Liz’s priorities and behaviors (and, also, Jason’s) changed at the drop of a dime. One moment, she was interested in reconnecting with Jason, and then she never wanted to talk to him again, and vice versa. This constant back and forth wasn’t slow-burn, quirky, or mysterious, it was just short of frustrating.

The relationships in The Last Time We Were Us were not ones that had me cheering for anyone. The way that Innis treats Liz is bad from the very beginning, and only progressed to the point where I was wondering if Liz had any respect for herself. Putting up with Innis and his romancing really took away from my experience with The Last Time We Were Us, and to make things worse, I suspected that even if Liz were to turn to Jason instead, things would still be less than ideal for her.

The novel’s pacing felt awkward, and I felt that the novel’s plot was a bit thin. A lot of things felt like filler, but didn’t feel like enough to keep readers on the edge of their seats and flipping eagerly to know what happens next to the characters. In short, The Last Time We Were Us did not succeed in engaging me as a reader, but just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean that it can’t work for you.

I would recommend The Last Time We Were Us to readers who are looking for a summer, southern romance, and to any readers who are looking for a novel that has the promise of being entertaining if anything from the above endears you.

About Leah Konen

Leah Konen grew up in a two-stoplight farming town in Washington State before moving to suburban North Carolina, where there were many more stoplights and lots of sweet tea. After studying journalism at the University of North Carolina, she headed to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. When she’s not working on novels and articles or writing for fashion brands, she enjoys devouring new books, spoiling her dog, Farley, biking around Brooklyn, checking out live music, and binge-watching TV. Find her online at www.leahkonen.com.

 

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