“Labels come with assumptions. They assume the bad kids are always monsters, and the good ones never are.”
If one quote can summarize a book so poetically while also holding back so much, it’s this one. Read it, and then read it again, and then assume that you’re going to make assumptions while reading only to be entirely wrong.
This book hit me right in the FEELS! There is subtle power in this book, building slowly, enthralling you in the emotion of Ivy and Autumn, so profoundly that when Tate hits you with the unraveled truths––she fucking HITS you with a solid fist to the throat. Repeatedly. Except, instead of flailing in pain, you turn the pages asking for more. Don’t get me wrong, there’s flailing. Copious amounts of flailing. But you won’t walk away––you won’t want to.
There are a myriad of themes intertwined in this complex plot. And outside of being an incredibly powerful story about sisters and the connection of love, The Last Confession Of Autumn Casterly is truly a book about assumptions. And Tate is a master at manipulating us into making all of them. Autumn is the typical bad girl. The one everyone is afraid of, the one everyone assumes has a closet full of skeletons. Where Ivy is the cheerful band geek. Part of a Star Wars, board game loving group that would never consider breaking the rules.
The thing about assumptions is we all make them. Whether we think we do or not, and by opening up with the good girl/bad girl dichotomy, Tate double-dog-dares us to believe we’re open-minded. Of course we won’t make any assumptions about what’s happening or where the story is going, but we simply can’t help doing it. Assumptions are insidious things, creeping into our subconscious so easily that it’s easy to think we’re aware of them. But we’re not. And by focusing on our overt assumptions, Tate slips in some of the more microscopic nuances of how assumptions work on so many different levels.
“It’s a strange feeling to scream and have no one hear it. At school, I could whisper and heads would turn; now I am a storm barreling across the Atlantic that doesn’t rock a single ship. It’s a sad, powerless feeling that strikes me with overfamiliarity.”
This is one of those books that I am once again going to be throwing at people left and right. Make no mistake: this book will leave a mark. Tate deals with heavy issues –– grief, drugs, sexual assault, crime, and violence chief among them. But she manages to weave in the lighter tones of friendship and love, bringing unexpected lightness to a story full of heartbreak.
And while I feel this book is so worth the emotional journey it takes you on, please be aware that this book does not tread lightly on the heavy topics it tackles. It is full of emotions and even though we alternate between Ivy and Autumn, both POV’s are first person. There is no distance or escape––we feel what they feel, experience what they experience, know what and how they think. It’s a personal, intimate perspective that will leave you raw and emotional in numerous ways.
Tate masterfully builds the suspense, taking us on a multi-layered journey of self-discovery while tackling this mountain of heavy topics. But for all the heaviness, the book highlights the power of finding your voice in a world determined to silence it, opening the door for important conversations with teens. The themes Tate raises are vitally important, especially in the world we live in today. I highly recommend this enthralling book!
Thank you Bookish First and Putnam Books for sending me an early copy.