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Last Will

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Bernie Raleigh is a failure at nearly everything he touches. Nobody notices a loser, and after being kidnapped for ransom as a child, Bernie has spent his adult life trying to avoid being noticed. That's impossible now that he's inherited his grandfather's enormous fortune. The inheritance comes complete with a mansion, a lot of obligations, and a very problematic housekeeper named Meda Amos. Beauty queen, alien abductee, crypto-Jew, single mother--Meda is all those things, and she may be the only person who can help Bernie survive his new and very public life.

279 pages, Paperback

First published April 24, 2012

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About the author

Bryn Greenwood

5 books3,942 followers
BRYN GREENWOOD is a fourth-generation Kansan and the daughter of a mostly reformed drug dealer. She is the NYT bestselling author of The Reckless Oath We Made, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Lie Lay Lain, and Last Will. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 102 reviews
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,447 reviews7,549 followers
November 28, 2018
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“He doesn’t need therapy. He just needs someone to love him.”

Multigajillionaire Pen Raleigh has died, leaving his company, home and entire fortune in the hands of the last in the line of Raleighs - Bernie. Spoiler Alert: I fell in love with him almost immediately . . . .

“My personal policy toward most of humanity resembles the Army’s policy regarding homosexuals. I won’t ask; please, don’t tell me.”

For whatever reason, my brain cast my favorite Drunk Historian as the lead . . . .

Making me hear Allan McLeod’s voice in my head the entire time I was reading which only increased my level of adoration. I’m now officially declaring Bernie as my book boyfriend and I dare any of you to try and take from me because . . . .

I asked the library to buy a copy of Last Will after falling in love with all things Wavy and Kellen with the release of Greenwood’s All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. I don’t know why it took so long for them to purchase this one, but when they finally did I found myself terrified to read it. I mean lightning doesn’t always strike twice, know what I mean? As the days ticked by, the deadline for this selection to go “poof” off my Kindle approached, and a blizzard that happened to match the cover hit like a sign from above, I figured it was time to finally bite the bullet. What I found was my kind of love story . . . but very much NOT your typical romance. Full of quirky, broken people, this is a story about healing and acceptance and finding yourself and making a family. It won’t be for everyone because there’s not a whole lot of action to propel the story along. You truly have to fall in love with these people or it won’t be for you. A dry sense of humor probably wouldn’t hurt either because Greenwood is pretty hilarious in a very understated way. I was lucky enough to be approached for an advanced copy of this author’s next release – which again had me terrified upon receiving the offer. At this point, though? I think it’s pretty safe to say . . . . .

Profile Image for Emma.
2,437 reviews829 followers
November 8, 2016
This is about life not being perfect. People not being perfect. That as we go through life, the paint chips off, we get dented, and sometimes we break.
Bryan Greenwood is very astute with the characters she writes about. She makes her characters seem like real people. A theme of hers seems to be not judging by appearance or even circumstance. Her writing makes me wonder what she would write about me if she knew me....
Her characters are broken but in a very particular way who by circumstance and /or personality or both, can be healed or redeemed by only one other. In this way her books are romantic although they don't look it on the surface.
In this story I really liked Bernie and his Aunty Ginny. Bernie and Meda are both products of their heritage, although I did struggle with Meda's anger sometimes because I don't like people who seem to like to pick fights.
I like this book for not portraying a perfect life or couple.
Profile Image for *TANYA*.
1,002 reviews290 followers
April 9, 2018
3.5 stars. Could have been a fantastic book but I felt like the author included a lot of gibberish that was not necessary to the story. I wish the main characters bond could have been developed a bit more. I’m not sure if Meda was best suited for Bernie because he was very endearing.
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,954 followers
June 19, 2012
2.5 stars. This is the second time in less than 24 hours where I'm going to have to use the terms quiet and anti-climactic in a review. There's no doubt that I should consider digging deep into my mental thesaurus to come up with different terms but I'm going to reserve the effort for a book I'd rather gush about.

Even though this was a much easier read than Lies of Locke Lamora, I don't think I can award bonus points for being able to get through the book quickly. The style of writing was not too complex, yet it lacked depth of emotion. If anything, the mood was somber in a way which felt heavy instead of contemplative. It was as if I wanted to hurry through the book just so I could get the monkey off my back.

Last Will started out almost memoir-like in spirit, if you want to liken this to a memoir from people who you don't really know anything about, which leaves you wondering why you picked up the memoir in the first place. As the dual PoV's started to refine themselves, the narrative turned into an internal monologue of observations. The writing style was very matter-of-fact. Imagine a ping pong match where the moves only alter slightly with each stroke of the paddle.

Some observations were dry and amusing.

That practicality aside, however, breasts are an attractant, examples of the incredible marketing genius of biology. Imagine a toothbrush so alluring it made you want to brush your teeth. You couldn't stop thinking about brushing your teeth. It ate up whole hours of idle thought. That would be quite a toothbrush.

"Two skinny people in bed are dangerous and sad, like lawn chairs having sex."

Some observations were beautifully written.

There were a couple of scenes I would have loved to include in this review had they not been so long. I can't believe I was moved by a passage of Bernie waxing poetic about Meda's stretch-marked breasts. This author should think about switching to another type of storytelling, something that would showcase the power of words.

Meda's fingertips traveled to the scar on her mouth. She didn't say a word. She didn't say, it's the man who cut up my face, who scarred me. She didn't say, it's the man who raped me. She didn't even say his name. It was an omission that spoke volumes to me.

(she was) terrifying, but in the lovely, rollicking way that a snake is terrifying. Fast, poisonous, slithering in the grass, but brilliantly designed. All sharp fangs, plated scales, and sinuous coiled muscle. Even if you're afraid of snakes, once you see their practical beauty, all the things you think you know fall away.

This was a story about two broken people finding their path to...

Recovery? Redemption? A place that worked for them? Honestly, I couldn't tell you. By the time these two figured out what they were doing, I didn't care anymore. Yes, there were bigger issues at work here. Both of these characters had seriously messed up pasts, but their continued emotional detachment from the past really screwed with my head. It killed me that Bernie's lovemaking was described as quiet and uninteresting. Uh...yay for the man who has performance anxiety?

One could argue that the story was moving, the journey was touching, and the ending was what it should be. To be honest, I was hoping the term "last will" was going to make for a nice twist on the ending but it didn't.

I can't say that the book was bad because it wasn't. I'm guessing that in a few months there will be several glowing reviews from people who understood and embraced what this author was trying to do. I won't even be able to disagree with them in that aspect because there is definitely a niche for Last Will. There are readers who will appreciate the complexity of this book much more than I did. The writing style was a distant reminder of Me Before You, except I felt like MBY was executed in a way which kept me wanting to know what was happening to the couple on their journey (and it moved me enough to cry).

So take what I've written with a grain of salt. Check out some other reviews. This might be more your thing than it was mine.

Profile Image for Liviu.
2,252 reviews630 followers
May 12, 2012
Last Will is one of the most charming and uplifting book I've read in recent years - last year's Lover's dictionary and 2010 Thera are other similar books I greatly enjoyed - while staying very grounded in "reality", though of course both main characters (Bernie and Meda) who alternate first person narration (with few interludes from Bernie's aunt who sort of functions as an outside/back story pov) are quite unlikely themselves, but the skill of the author is such that both just stand out, take over and made me not able to put this book down once i opened it as well as doing an immediate reread to stay more with them.

The book itself came out of nowhere for me - saw it a few days ago on Net Galley and being in the mood for a change of pace I checked a sample and enjoyed it enough to request it for a review, but I never expected the wonderful engaging experience Last Will provided or the fact that I simply could not put it down once I idly opened it to see where it will fit in my reading plans...

I plan to have a coherent FBC review with more quotes probably for the publication date next week, but a few points:

- the novel shines in the two characters and their interaction but the way the author structured it as generally alternating first person narrations dealing with the same events from Bernie or Meda's perspective works very well and I think it is a key to the book's success

- the secondary cast of characters - especially Meda's family - are also very well drawn and the small town feel is authentic and not glossed over in any way; a special mention goes to Meda's mom, Muriel whose "alien abduction" stories are both pathetic but also a way to cope with her not-so-easy life as Bernie understands the best - despite their very different situations, Bernie's abduction as a child and what happened then, all recounted at key parts of the book and essentially defining him, coupled with his parents and most family low regard for him, made him closest psychically with Mureil, while Meda generally tough minded resembles her more practical grandma and aunt who kept the family going

- the storyline is not particularly complicated, though there are a few surprises here and there, but that is beside the point as Last Will lives in Bernie and Meda

- the back stories are quite important and the way they are inserted leading to the final piece of the puzzle that explains some of Bernie's stranger peculiarities like his inability to sleep with someone else (sleep as in sleep not sex btw, where Bernie is reasonably normal, though of course with some strangeness too) fit very well the general structure of the book

- the blurb is more or less accurate but it does not convey the power and richness of the book:

Bernie, now 30 and moonlighting as an assistant librarian in Kansas city, last male scion of a very rich family, returns to the childhood mansion when his grandfather dies and leaves him his billions, but said childhood mansion was also the place where Bernie was abducted for ransom as a 9 year old - at the local school more precisely - and where the events that shaped him in the retiring and not really able to deal with society man of today took place, in addition to the tragic accidental deaths of his "golden boy" older brother and father, deaths which his estranged mother somehow blames on him, or maybe not blames directly but you get the idea...
Lots of peculiarities we slowly discover but Bernie's voice is very compelling and he is fundamentally a good man

At the mansion he meets Meda who is an early 20s year old local exotic looking beauty with facial scars that somehow make her even more compelling - the ugly history of those is recounted too - from a weird downscale family living in and out trailers, single mother of a 2-3 year old girl, who works as assistant housekeeper for her aunt who is now the domestic help in charge of Bernie's mansion; tough minded and knowing that "sleeping with your boss" is unlikely to lead anywhere but to social opprobrium and heart break, Meda walks a fine line between humoring the immediately struck Bernie and keeping him at a distance, but as her good looks tend to attract the local tough boys, she is slowly attracted by Bernie's goodness and loneliness; of course a lot lies between them, from his peculiarities, to both their histories to the social gulf...

All in all this is a top 25 novel of mine and one I highly, highly recommend for a great compelling, charming and uplifting novel.

As promised though a little later than hoped, full FBC Rv done; as it is essentially the above but more coherent and with some quotes, I will just include the link:

Profile Image for Lisa Brackmann.
Author 12 books143 followers
April 6, 2012
"When you get to the point where you know the worst thing about someone you love, you know the truth about yourself," words spoken by one of the main characters in Bryn Greenwood's LAST WILL that summarize the novel better than any words I can summon myself. Bryn Greenwood writes about the wounds that define us, and the possibilities and limits of recovery, with precision, humor and an unsentimental clarity of vision. I can't wait for the next book from this fresh, original voice!
Profile Image for Christina Rothfusz.
744 reviews16 followers
December 24, 2021
I loved "The Reckless Oath we made" by this author, but did not enjoy this one quite as much.

When Bernie's Grandfather dies, he inherits the family fortune - a real fortune, complete with a mansion, a board of directors and a housekeeper that has him on edge.

The writing is lovely and I found Bernie very endearing, however, I felt the relationship between him and Meda had little substance and not sure she was the best match for him.

Profile Image for Andrea.
957 reviews73 followers
December 25, 2022
I like Brynn Greenwood and will read just about anything she chooses to write. I found this entertaining but the ending was a bit abrupt.
Profile Image for Judy.
1,676 reviews280 followers
August 2, 2012

I don't recall how this book came to my attention. Stairway Press is the tiniest of indie publishers and the only unfortunate result of that is a possible lack of publicity. Because this is a great novel that falls just enough off the beaten track of current fiction to make it refreshingly unique.

Bernie Raleigh is a 30-year-old man to whom nothing good has ever happened. He is the grandson and sole heir of the richest man in Oklahoma City. Kidnapped when he was almost 10 by a local psychopath hoping for a large ransom, he was traumatized, psychoanalyzed to no avail, rejected by his mother, and grew up to be a useless failure. He finally found a job he liked as a librarian and had been hiding away in Kansas City. Then his grandfather dies and Bernie finds himself back in the Raleigh mansion, the loneliest and most confused billionaire in the world.

Meda Amos is a direct descendant of two Russian immigrant sisters who were forced to turn to prostitution when their parents died of influenza in the 1800s. Teenagers in a frontier town, without relatives or friends, they had no other resources. Meda is blessed and cursed with great beauty, making her a magnet to men but also a victim. She is raising a daughter, working as a maid at the mansion, living with her aging grandmother and trying to look out for her alcoholic mom, who believes in UFOs and alien abduction.

Last Will is an almost perfect summer read, because it is a romance set in the freezing cold Oklahoma winter. With exquisite wry tenderness, Bryn Greenwood has written a modern Cinderella tale in three first person voices: Bernie, Meda, and Aunt Ginny, who is Bernie's aunt but is really his guardian angel/fairy godmother. As soon as I turned the last page, I wanted to go to the beginning and read it all over again. I suspect I may reread this captivating story many times in the years to come.

It took Ms Greenwood a decade to get her first novel published. Only the mysterious ways of publishing can explain such a thing. She makes you love her characters, introducing them so smoothly I felt I already knew them and would never forget them. The back-stories of Bernie and Meda are revealed in bits but so expertly, giving out details only as needed to further the plot.

Because of his past, Bernie's depression and wish to be anonymous combine with the unconscious assurance of the rich, making him an unpredictable mix of hapless kindness and hopeless estrangement from others. Because of her past, Meda is tough, wise beyond her years, but oh so conflicted about the attentions of this young man with all that money. Watching them grope towards understanding as they help each other heal is maddening but irresistible.

Last Will may not be great literature but it is consummate storytelling. In another era, it may have been great literature in the tradition of Charles Dickens, Alexander Dumas, George Eliot, or Jane Austen. This is a deeply engaging tale of love, money, tragedy, and society with a healthy dose of humor and a healthy respect for humanity. So curl up with the A/C on or by the pool and lose yourself in a good read!
Profile Image for Carla.
1,180 reviews18 followers
February 27, 2018
Fairly enjoyable book. Was looking at this author's older works when I picked this up. A lot of hype regarding her newest book. I'll be interested to see if her writing is similar. This book wasn't fleshed out like it should have been. Left me with many questions that just weren't explained in the book. The writing itself was good, so that leaves me with optimism! It's a love story, about two imperfect people (aren't we all?) which makes it heartwarming and true to life. Her characters are real people. These type of characters are my favourite.
Profile Image for Ian.
1,349 reviews188 followers
July 19, 2012
3.5 Stars

"What a cunt," Ray said, louder, emboldened by his friends' laughter. Meda didn't pause and my gut churned to hear him reduce her to the thing he'd done to her. The truth is that every fistfight I ever had, most of them with Robby, ended with me getting the worst of it. I was not prepared to take on five guys. I wasn't afraid. It's not like my nose was ever going to be straight again, but it seemed futile. I think even by the kindest of standards I was something of a weakling, but I had only one chance to do the right thing. Then it occurred to me: I didn't have to take on five guys. Ray Brueggeman was so intent on Meda's retreating back that he didn't even notice me.

As a child Bernie was kidnapped and held for ransom. His parents refused to pay the ransom and before being rescued he was beaten, tortured and finally shot and left for dead. Now as an adult he has inherited a vast fortune, but he is still mentally fragile.

Mr Darryl produced medical records detailing his clients broken jaw and teeth, and with a flourish, several Polaroid pictures of a swollen and blackened Ray Brueggeman. In one photo, he grimaced, showing the metal scaffolding that held his jaw together. I couldn't stop myself from smiling and Alex admonished me with a look.

As a young adult Meda was raped. The boys who attacked her had connections and were not punished. She has been used by men all her life, and the last thing she needs is someone like Bernie using the power he has over her to manipulate her.

"The supposed merits of your case aside, let me tell you what's going to happen if you proceed with this. Unless you drop your suit, my client has instructed me to pursue any and all legal recourse on behalf of Meda Amos against My Brueggeman for his 1988 assault on Miss Amos."

Last Will is a quirky romance about two very damaged people who find a sense of belonging in each others arms. Both have some serious baggage, Bernie's many traumas manifest themselves in the bedroom. Meda can't commit to a man who she loves and who loves her because of her family history. I can't really fault the book in any way but it never really grabbed me. While I was reading it I was enjoying reading it, but I could put it down for a few days without feeling any compulsion to finish it. It has quite an interesting narrative style, first person but from three separate perspectives (Bernie, Meda, Aunt Ginnie). It's not a page turner, but there are some good things going on there.

"I'll make you an offer," I said. Both lawyers turned and looked at me. "You can recoup the cost of some of your wasted time. I'll give you $100 for that picture." I indicated the uppermost Polaroid on the stack of pictures he had laid out.

18 reviews
November 24, 2020
I enjoyed this book for a completely different reason than I expected. I thought it was going to be about some romantic grand gestures and I expected it to be about lots of life-changing events and full of action (not the car chases and kidnappings type, but the deaths, divorces and car accidents type). Instead, it was about one man and one woman. Their relationship was complicated and beautiful. They each had their own drama, but there weren't constantly new things happening to keep me interested. It felt like this book was more of an in-depth character analysis into the to main characters. One of the two characters was Bernie, with his sad outlook that was an inescapable depression that held him back from any intimacy, except a legitimate one with his Aunt Ginny. The other character was Meda. She was just as damaged but in a different way. Meda was heartbreakingly beautiful and this doesn't seem like a logical position, but we are led through all the ways that being sexy and alluring has brought violence, insult and injury into her life. Her beauty has even affected the relationships in her life that should have nothing to do with her outward image.
Since I just read another book about a love story, it was fascinating to see the difference. In Graham Green's love story, The End of the Affair there was a passionate love affair going on that was full of passion and promises being made to each other and to God himself. It was the type of love affair that makes you question your existence and your own passion (or lack thereof). On the other, this book really focused on tenderness and kindness. Patience was at the heart of this relationship, not passion. Even for Bernie, for experienced profound passion, he had to be patient when trying to express that passion because he didn't know what its effects would on Meda. She was also patient with him because she didn't realize that a kidnapping that happened to him when he was a child would have such long-reaching consequences on his ability to feel at ease with another person. Both characters carried such heavy baggage but dealt with it differently and it was fascinating to see that interaction. I think the fact that the author changed the narrator was also a great way to allow us to see the same situation from different perspectives, but it was done without confusion so as to allow us to it benefit from it without frustration. I really enjoyed reading this book and felt like I got to personally know the characters involved. I will miss them.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
412 reviews5 followers
July 10, 2017
I am so sad to be giving Last Will only two stars. And the second star is purely for the beautiful writing.

I picked up Last Will because I read All the Ugly and Wonderful Things and I absolutely loved everything about it. So it seemed a natural for me to pick up another of Bryn Greenwood's other books. But even without comparing the two books I didn't like Last Will. Last Will was a well-written boring story.

This might be the 5th or so changing POV book I've read in a row now, so I'm going on a changing-POV-hiatus, but also this was not one of the better uses of changing POVs. The POV would change within the same chapter, and it was all first-person, making it difficult to follow at times. Unlike ATUAWT, each character didn't have a unique voice, so they sort of blended.

But none of that really mattered, because the story was so dull. Broken people from different worlds coming together, blah, blah, blah. It's too bad but Bernie and Meda just aren't well-developed or likable characters. I found myself more interested in their back stories — each of them has a violent tragedy in their past. But they barely go into it, as it's clearly positioned as just something that makes each character who they are, but still, each back story seemed much more interesting than the alleged love story at hand. Even at the 80% mark, I could have closed this book, never picked it up again, and not cared about how it ended. (I only finished it because it was the last book in my book challenge.) When I finally did finish it, it was a complete and total let down. I am dumbfounded by how many 4 and 5 star reviews this book has.

I really want to give this book just one star. I can't, because it's beautifully written — Bryn Greenwood is a master writer. And maybe there's just a little residual glow from ATUAWT that gives Last Will a push to two stars from one. Unfortunately, Last Will is about an exciting a read as its title.
Profile Image for Ramsey Hootman.
Author 6 books119 followers
May 12, 2012
If you're looking for unique characters that will stick with you long after the last page is turned, you've come to the right book.

My advice to readers is this: stick with it. You'll be rewarded. Last Will is intriguing and a little puzzling at the start, but if you don't connect with the characters immediately (which I didn't), rest assured that you will. I was a good halfway through the book before Bernie and Meda really became clear to me as people. I think the author is intentional about making them rather obscure, dropping bits and pieces as you go, but the technique is a bit of a double edged sword. Though I felt it paid off in the end, I spent a lot of time early on wondering if it was going anywhere.

I also had a couple of other nitpicks:

- The rotating first-person points of view didn't work well for me. The voices weren't distinct enough that I could have made sense of the switches without the labels at the beginning of each section, and a couple of times I found myself looking back to remind myself who was supposed to be talking.

- The focus of the narrative is so tight on Bernie and Meda (who are wonderful characters) that the secondary characters feel a little blank and unreal. There were aunts and cousins and siblings and I kept mixing up who was who, especially on Meda's side. Even Meda's daughter felt a bit like a prop.

The fact that I am still giving this book four stars in spite of these annoyances tells you how good the characters are. Last Will is a love story - a weird, quirky, non-traditional love story between two very unique people. I would be thrilled if modern literature were populated with stories like this, but for some reason they're few and far between. This one is truly a hidden gem, not to be missed.
Profile Image for Nadine in NY Jones.
2,750 reviews217 followers
March 15, 2018
This book was amazing. I went from not really caring about the characters to being brought to actual tears because I cared so much.

The theme is a familiar one: two damaged and somewhat lonely people have carved out places for themselves in the world ... and then they meet, and work to carve out a new, possibly better, place.

The plot is not flashy or riveting or any of those other words. It is quiet, a little sneaky, and rather mesmerizing.

There are some clunky moments, and it took me a while to get to know the characters, and care about them. I guess you can tell this is a first novel, it's missing that spark that I found in her later novels.

There is a scene in a cemetery, when they read the names on some headstones, and the names seem so real I wondered if Greenwood found them in a cemetery sonewhere and vowed to include them in her book:
Meda pointed to a small white stone that was barely legible. I squatted down and by angling my head against the glare I could just make out the ghost of old letters. “She was my grandmother’s great-grandmother.” There was a Star of David carved into the stone and below that the words Meda Amos Aged 26 yrs. Let her rest. The next grave over had a marker that read: Ann Adore, Friend.

There was a stone that read MaeLee Chinese gal and one that said Buffalo Nell O’Hara, She was a good one. A more elaborate, expensive one said Tamaura, Beloved Concubine of J. Tidwell. Most of the others were barely marked, some with wooden planks that must have once had names on them. Other graves were mere depressions in the soil. Meda led me a little further to a stone that said Zipporah Amos 1858-1897 With Her God.

“That’s Meda’s younger sister,” she said.
Profile Image for Dana.
Author 29 books278 followers
May 24, 2012
Last Will is a stealth book. There are no explosions or car chases, no over the top confrontations, no murders. It doesn't need any of these things to totally suck the reader in. I was quietly and totally sucked into the story and the character interaction all the way to the very satisfying and uplifting ending. Bryn Greenwood is an amazing writer. She has the ability to convey so much with some of the most concise and precise writing I've ever seen. Last Will is the literary equivalent of an indie movie "sleeper" hit. In fact, a smart filmmaker would do well to grab the rights to it and make just that.
Profile Image for Cindy.
Author 13 books1,096 followers
April 23, 2012
this novel was such a treat to read.

it is a quiet book, action wise,
but so very powerful emotionally. it
truly resonates.

beautifully written from the point of
view of our hero, heroine and the hero's
aunt, greenwood reveals each character
unflinchingly, precisely and with truth.
each narrator is "broken" in his or her
own way, yet still survivors, and ultimately,
Last Will was so uplifting for me. a
true pleasure to read and such a strong
debut. i love both bernie and meda, our
hero and heroine.

highly recommended!
Profile Image for The Pixie Reader .
66 reviews3 followers
January 26, 2023
This is the second time I've read this book this year and the third time overall. Somehow, Bryn Greenwood's books seem to get better the more times you read them.
This is a book that I find myself thinking about at random times. The book that's recently become my go-to when I want to read something meaningful.
Profile Image for Nilu.
509 reviews29 followers
October 1, 2019
Meet Bernie a 30 year old recluse, with a tragic past ,who works an an assistant librarian somewhere in Kansas.
Meet Meda, a beautiful twenty something girl with scars on her face and a tragic past, who works as a maid in a millionaire ‘s house.
These two quirky and sad people meet each other one day at a funeral and the story kicks off.

Bryn Greenwood narrates a Tale Of two unlikely people finding a chance at happiness and the obstacles they overcome to achieve it.

Recommended to folks who likes quirky characters and romance.
Profile Image for Gretchen.
379 reviews
March 24, 2023
Bryn Greenwood has an interesting writing style. It’s dark and weird but still easy to read. This book was pretty good, but not on the same level as All The Ugly and Wonderful Things. There wasn’t much plot.
Profile Image for Jean.
233 reviews23 followers
January 23, 2020
I love how Greenwood brings two worlds together and shows the struggles and the challenges. Not a fast read and it lulled just a little, but I love her writing and will read anything I can get my hands on of hers.
Profile Image for Amy.
1,617 reviews166 followers
May 6, 2012
I have a love-hate relationship with books about broken people. Sometimes, I'm in the mood and enjoy reading about people who can't get out of their own way to discover happiness. And then there are times when I just do not have the patience to read about people who need fixing. I've got enough problems.

So after I started Bryn Greenwood's Last Will and discovered that it is about not one, but TWO broken people, I realized I had to suck it up and get past my initial bad mood. I'd just finished with Insurgent , and felt exhausted in every sense of the word. I realized, though, that it isn't fair to Bryn Greenwood that I was too tired to read about another fractured soul so soon after leaving Tris.

I'm glad I gave Last Will a chance.

Bernie Raleigh's grandfather dies at age 90, leaving Bernie the sole heir. While some folks would be overjoyed to inherit so much money that, as Bernie later observes, they can write a check for $20 million and not notice it, Bernie is not one of them. He has worked very hard for nearly 20 years to hide, and inheriting his grandfather's legacy means putting himself back in the public.

But that's nothing, really, when it comes to Bernie. For Bernie Raleigh has not one but two tragedies he must overcome: first there was his kidnapping as a young teenager, which he barely survived and which continues to haunt him, rendering him incapable of sleeping in the same bed as another person. (It also renders him incapable of a certain completion during sexy times, we'll just say.) That would cripple anyone, but Bernie later suffered another sadness when his father and older brother died in an auto accident. With their deaths, Bernie became the designee to take over his grandfather's businesses, and he also became the lightning rod for his mother's disappointment. He was, is not, and never will be his older brother, much to her chagrin.

When he returns home for his grandfather's funeral, he sees the exotic Meda, a maid and single mother. He is attracted to her immediately. Meda has her own issues, not the least of which is a grandmother convinced that she was abducted by aliens. Medea herself suffered a horrific crime; the scar across her lips bears witness to her suffering.

Bernie and Meda engage in a romance, proceeding in fits and starts. These two have a LOT of hurdles to cross, given their own tortured backgrounds. They also have to get past Bernie's wealth and Meda's lack thereof:

"I don't like taking your money."


"You don't know what it's like being me!" The outburst startled Annadore into tears. Meda reached out and stroked her hair until she settled down again.

"You don't know what it's like being me," I said quietly.

The story is told from Meda's and Bernie's points of view, along with that of Bernie's Aunt Ginny, herself a victim of loss. She provides the soothing balm, though, to these two characters, helping us feel hopeful that Bernie and Meda will heal each other and themselves.

This isn't really a romantic novel, although it has some romance in it. (Not much hotness, though, so if you're looking for that, this isn't for you.) It isn't a fairytale, either, because Bryn Greenwood knows that her characters can't be fixed easily. Both of them try, both of them fail, and they keep trying. This also isn't much of a love story, because the love they have is not always shared, nor is it offered without conditions. What Last Will is, I guess, is a story of people who need each other, even if they don't realize how much. It turns out Barbra Streisand was right: people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.
Profile Image for Katie.
231 reviews38 followers
June 14, 2012
3 1/2 stars for me, but I rounded up.

When Bernie's grandfather dies Bernie finds himself to be the sole heir of an insurmountable fortune. Bernie is not happy about this. In fact, it is a huge disruption and inconvenience in his normally quiet and unobtrusive life. When he's forced to his grandfather's home to take care of settling the estate, Bernie becomes enamored with Meda, one of the house keepers who tends to the huge mansion.

Both Bernie and Meda have troubled pasts. Meda, who is described many times as a thoroughly beautiful woman, bares the evidence of her tormentors on her face. And though she's a single mother who is surrounded by reminders on why her life should suck, she doesn't really let it bring her down. She is a breath of beautiful fresh air into Bernie's world who's troubles are more complicated. Having been abducted and held for ransom when he was a child has left scars on his soul. The kidnapping and how his family dealt with the situation, compiled with the fact that he lost his father and only brother in a car wreck when he was a teenager have left Bernie a simple shell of a man. He has very little emotion, and even less desire to be around others.

There were several parts of Last Will that I really enjoyed. Thus the 3 1/2 star rating... Bernie's dry humor had me giggling a few times, his inability to connect with anyone around him had me sad for him and I found myself wanting to hug him tell him to just let go of it all and everything would be alright. I also liked the character of Meda. She had been hurt, tortured almost, but she never let it define who she was. She was a tough cookie and she wasn't going to just lay down and let life bull doze over her. She was a survivor and I admire that. This was a character driven book. And 9 times out of 10 if the author can create likable characters, I'm on board.

Where I felt the book fell a bit flat... This was written in 1st person from 3 different character's points of view. Bernie, Meda and Bernie's Aunt Ginny. First, all though she was a likable enough lady, I thought the inserts from Aunt Ginny were useless. They were few and far between and didn't really give me much insight into herself, Bernie or Meda, who were the MAIN characters. I did learn a few things about Bernie through Aunt Ginny's narration, but since most of the book was Bernie's, I felt I should have learned about Bernie from being in Bernie's head. Not an outsider's perception of Bernie. I just never felt like I really got to know any of these people, despite the fact that I was reading from their own view points. That along with there was really no resolution to Bernie's messed upness the book left me feeling a bit unfulfilled.

Profile Image for Aftan.
190 reviews1 follower
May 3, 2012
I spent the weekend reading this book and have been contemplating the review for it ever since. I REALLY wanted to like this book. It had an interesting plot line and I was kept guessing until the very end on what was going to happen which was really nice.

I was dissapointed though. The climax and conclusion of the book fell flat for me. I was left not liking any of the characters, save for a bit of a soft spot for Bernie and his Aunt. Meda started out being a character that I could enjoy and in some ways relate to. But then she did what she was swearing up and down she wouldn't do. She ended up marrying him. Granted, she waited until Bernie added her to his will but she still did it for money. No, she didn't get her fairytale ending. She instead got to help pick out her shiny new beamer--which is another catch in my craw. What happended to her being mad at Bernis for buying her expensive things.

Bernie was shoved into a horrible situation and is just trying to make it day by day. While his heart was in the right place he ended up buying Meda's love anyway. Ripping and tearing a $6,000 dress off of her etc. etc.

Bernie's aunt was my favorite character throughout the book. However, the fact that she sold all of her jewelry to save him but it wasn't enough. What about the house? The car? The fur jackets? She is written to be a good guy but she wasn't the martyr and great mom-type that she is made out to be.

All in all the book was a good read. I was just waiting for Bernie to do something different. To realize his value didn't lie in sex, Meda or anything else other than himself. The whole alien ubduction thing was just weird though I can see what the authoer was trying to do. It was just the ending that killed it for me. It left me unsatisfied with a handful of characters I ended up really dissapointed in.

That being said Bryn Greenwood did a good job writing the book. It was a enjoyable read that I could easily follow.

~*~I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway~*~
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Elise.
165 reviews
February 10, 2017
I really enjoyed this read. It reminded me of the show This is Us with its depiction of family interactions and a couple who isn't "seen" in typical romantic mainstream dramas/novels. The angst/damaged characters paired with quirky comedy balance nicely, though I thought from 72% - 85% dragged a bit. The ending wasn't as powerful or climactic as I thought it would be, but perhaps it's symbolic of Bernie's "problem."
Profile Image for Sarah.
193 reviews
May 23, 2012
This book was written by a grad school classmate of mine, and I suppose I was predisposed toward liking it for that reason, but I truly adored it. The main characters are damaged people trying to find a path leading to a loving relationship. The sources of their problems are revealed gradually and in devastatingly offhand ways. You cringe for them and admire them and wish for their success. The minor characters illuminate the main characters beautifully. The book reminds me of Ann Patchett's early novel "The Patron Saint of Liars," perhaps not in style, but in how it made me feel: Completely absorbed in the inner lives of deeply sympathetic characters who have but a sliver of a chance at happiness.
Profile Image for Jennifer Walkup.
Author 5 books254 followers
November 22, 2013
I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early copy of Last Will. Word of advice: get your copy now. And when do, set aside a big chunk of time to read it. It’s so compelling, I think I read it in two sittings. It’s not only a beautifully written, complicated, and layered tale of pain and healing, but a touching story of two amazing characters getting to know each other and themselves. Greenwood is absolutely masterful at bringing Bernie and Meda to life on the page, and made me fall in love with both of them, not in spite of their flaws, but because of them.

I also was able to interview Greenwood on my blog. Learn more about her, and LAST WILL here: http://waltzwithwords.blogspot.com/20...
Profile Image for Jessica Forgille.
39 reviews26 followers
January 4, 2017
I read this immediately after finishing "All the Ugly and Wonderful Things" also written by Bryan Greenwood. I gave that book 5 stars and added it to my "favorites" shelf. If I had read this book first I would not have rushed to read the other. I felt like it was hard to get a grasp on either Meda, which made me less fond of Bernie. Meda was upset or offended by every single thing Bernie said, did, or implied throughout the entire book. Which made Bernie seem a little pathetic for aggressively pursuing her. Other than being a bit of a pouty baby I did not see much substance to Meda. I gave this 3 rather than 2 stars only because I think Ms. Greenwood is a truly wonderful writer. While I detested one of the main characters I truly enjoyed the writing.
Author 5 books51 followers
June 24, 2012
A riveting, compassionate, twisty, humane book. Librarian Bernie Raleigh, kidnapped for ransom as a child, inherits his grandfather's immense fortune and must come to terms with the wealth and the wounds that they caused him. He encounters Meda Amos, one-time beauty queen, current housekeeper and single mother, who has psychic and physical scars of her own, but might be his best chance of navigating the new role Bernie never sought but finds himself living.
Profile Image for Romi.
1,083 reviews
December 21, 2016
I'm not even sure how I found this book but I loved, loved, loved it. It started out feeling a bit silly, like a Rosie Project of sorts for the ridiculously rich; but it was a look at how damaged people try to rise above their trauma to a life of meaning and love. I found it utterly graceful and incredibly touching.
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