* * * 1/2
Anna Eliot is tired of worrying about what other people think. After all, that was how she lost the only guy she ever really liked, Finn Westbrook.
Now, three years after she broke his heart, the one who got away is back in her life.
All Anna wants is a chance to relive their last kiss again (and again and again). But Finn obviously hasn’t forgotten how she treated him, and he’s made it clear he has no interest in having anything to do with her.
Anna keeps trying to persuade herself that she doesn’t care about Finn either, but even though they’ve both changed since they first met, deep down she knows he’s the guy for her. Now if only she can get him to believe that, too....
With her signature wit and expertly authentic teen voice, Claire LaZebnik (the author of fan favorites Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting) once again breathes new life into a perennially popular love story. Fans of Polly Shulman, Maureen Johnson, and, of course, Jane Austen will love this irresistibly funny and romantic tale of first loves and second chances.
Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel after Pride and Prejudice and Emma. And this was a pretty good modernization of Miss Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth’s story. LaZebnik does a wonderful job of transitioning a story about betrayal, growth and forgiveness into a contemporary high school setting.
Anna meets Finn their freshmen year when he joins her carpool to and from school. It doesn’t take long before they hit it off over frozen yogurt, super cool online photos and secret kisses. But Anna is one of the cool kids and Finn is not. She is embarrassed to admit their relationship to her friends so she holds back on showing too much at school. When Finn asks Anna to Homecoming she says that she has already agreed to go with friends but that she will meet him there. Which is true, but …when the young Finn in his oversized suit comes over to Anna, she completely snubs him. They avoid each other the rest of the year and over the summer Finn and his parents move away.
Fast forward three years later. It is senior year and all the girls are giddy over the new hot transfer….Finn Westbrook. Anna is still feeling horribly guilty about hurting the only guy she has ever really liked. She has no real hope that Finn will giver her the time of day let alone forgive her but she attempts to apologize anyway. His response is exactly what you would expect. He isn’t mean but he also isn’t interested in her apology or being friends. But her friends pull him into their group and pretty soon Finn and Anna are in constant awkward company.
This story definitely had its uncomfortable moments. The Homecoming scene made my skin crawl. Even though you see it coming, nothing can really prepare you for that kind of humiliation. But I loved the overall message. Much like our hero and heroine in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Anna and Finn (Anna in particular) have to grow and learn to be strong and stand up for their convictions before they can ever consider a relationship with each other.
My only complaint with the story is that I felt that Anna’s attempts at an apology were rather weak. She made too many excuses. Her apology would have gone a lot farther had she, rather than trying to justify her actions, simply apologized and admitted her actions were wrong. Granted that is the adult in me talking. Maybe I should be a little more forgiving to the teenagers.
As is always the case with books I really enjoy, the characters absolutely won me over. I found the characters in this book to be wonderfully diverse and delightful. Well except for Anna’s parents and one of her sisters – the three of them were pretty despicable. And I am not ashamed to admit that Finn might be one of my favorite book boyfriends ever. I have a soft spot for cute nerds. Make them dark haired and skinny and I’m a puddle on the floor. Not so secret fact: The Executive Officer is a dark haired skinny nerd. So I might have a type. And Finn might be it.
As you can probably tell, I found The Last Best Kiss to be a thoroughly entertaining and engaging book. This was a sweet story that I would recommend to anyone looking for a delightful teen romance.