All That’s Left to Say
Published July 18, 2023
About All That’s Left to Say
A poignant and powerful story of a grieving girl willing to risk everything, perfect for fans of Robin Benway and Jandy Nelson.
On prom night, Hannah MacLaren sits in the headmaster’s office in her fanciest dress, soaked to the bone. She is in huge trouble after pulling the fire alarm right as the prom queen was about to be crowned. But Hannah had her reasons . . .
One year ago, her cousin Sophie, who was also her best friend and the person she loved most in the world, died of an overdose. Drowning in grief, Hannah became obsessed with one Who gave Sophie those pills? Who is refusing to give her family the closure they deserve?
Then she concocted a plan to enroll at her cousin’s fancy private school with a new look and a mouthful of lies, and finally uncover the truth.
But Hannah didn’t expect all the lines to blur. She didn’t expect Sophie’s friends to be so complicated. She didn’t expect to fall for her longtime enemy. Now, she must choose to either let herself really mourn Sophie and move on, or see her search through to its explosive end–even if it means destroying herself.
I haven’t read anything by Robin Benway or Jandy Nelson (terrible, I know!), so I can’t compare this book to those. I did read YOU’D BE HOME NOW by Kathleen Glasgow, and I definitely feel like there are some similarities, though the plots are completely different.
Hannah’s dogged determination to do something useful, to make her cousin’s death mean something or make sense, or to hold someone responsible drives this story forward. She’s smart and pretty single-minded, which could make her kind of a bummer as a narrator. What makes her great, though, is the authenticity with which her grief is written. I cried multiple times while reading this book. The emotions and the actions of grief were described so well in ALL THAT’S LEFT TO SAY.
I also really enjoyed the side characters. They felt very well-developed, like each one could have been a main character had the story chosen to center them instead. Not only did that make the scenes with multiple characters in them feel very real, but it also created this sense that when the characters were off-scene, they were still busy doing things that impacted the story.
All in all, this book tells a story of profound, unexpected loss in an unforgettable way. I think fans of YOU’D BE HOME NOW by Kathleen Glasgow should definitely check out ALL THAT’S LEFT TO SAY.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Major characters are white. Some minor characters are queer and/or POC. Hannah’s cousin died of an accidental drug overdose. Her dad had an alcohol abuse disorder.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat frequently.
Kissing between boy and girl.
Hannah hears Sophie’s voice in her head in hard times. She knows the voice is in her mind, but it often tells her what she needs to hear at the moment.
Hannah pulls a fire alarm during a school dance and faces consequences for it.
A man follows a girl in his car. Someone taps the bumper of the guy’s car with their car.
Hannah asks the girl who found her cousin and called 911 to describe to her exactly what happened. The description is not included in the text, but it’s hinted that it’s pretty awful.
Hannah’s dad had alcohol abuse disorder and attended rehab and AA meetings. Hannah tries to figure out who else at school might be using or selling drugs, so she can figure out who sold the pills her cousin took the night she died.
A boy shares a rumor that another boy sells pills or maybe pot. Teens drink alcohol at a party. A girl finds pills in her purse.
In one scene, Hannah thinks about the stigma surrounding the term “addiction” and why she chooses to use the term “drug abuse disorder” instead.
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