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The Last Best Story

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Rose Regnero was a star reporter for her high school paper, destined for a career in journalism, when she abruptly quit two months ago, leaving behind her very-nearly-sort-of-boyfriend and editor-in-chief, Grant. Now she is trying to be normal at her senior prom, with a new boy and new interests, and isn’t looking back.

Grant was totally blindsided when Rose walked away from the Gazette. After all, they’d dedicated their lives to it for the past four years, had even planned on majoring in journalism together at Northwestern—which is why Grant is determined to entice Rose back. But whether it’s really to the paper or to him he’s not entirely sure.

When an alarm is set off at prom and the school goes on lockdown, Grant discovers that someone is loose in the building with a gun. But Rose, caught outside of the gym, knows differently. Will her instincts for a good story win out against her resolve to leave Grant and the paper behind?

352 pages, ebook

First published August 7, 2018

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About the author

Maggie Lehrman

2 books170 followers
Maggie Lehrman is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, NY. She grew up outside of Chicago and went on to get a degree in English at Harvard, where she once received a grant to purchase young adult books the library didn't have. During her decade of working as an editor of books for children, she also earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. The Cost of All Things is her first book. The Last Best Story comes out in August 2018.

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5 stars
62 (12%)
4 stars
129 (26%)
3 stars
200 (41%)
2 stars
67 (13%)
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24 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 85 reviews
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,672 reviews701 followers
August 4, 2018
Well. I came for the cutesy cover and EW premise of a “romantic comedy” and then the premise on GR mentions a possible school shooting and I was confused.

I liked Rose and Grant well enough. There were a lot of characters here and they’re all clichés. I didn’t feel like I actually got to know anyone as they’re all so wrapped up in themselves. I will say Rose’s mom was awesome for the short time we saw her.

Plot wise, it was all over the place. The chapters flip flop between past and present and while it was effective, I never got into the rhythm of the story. If the jarring was intentional, good job. The indifference about the possible shooter was a glaring commentary on our current problem with gun control and I can’t figure out if it was a genius move or not.

Overall, it was a quick read and I did like it. Yet at the same time, I wasn’t satisfied when I was finished. This was not the cute contemp I was expecting.

**Huge thanks to Balzer + Bray for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,333 reviews232 followers
August 6, 2018
Rating: 3.5 Stars

For almost four years Rose had been Grant's "person", but then she abruptly walked away from the paper, journalism, and Grant too. The search for the truth about the gunman was their last chance to work on a story together, and maybe their last shot at friendship as well.

• Pro: The parts, which focused on the journalistic aspects were very interesting. I really enjoyed getting to see their whole process.

• Pro: I keep seeing a lot of reviewers saying they hated Grant. I didn't hate grant. He was flawed, and his singular focus was sometimes frustrating, but I didn't hate him. As a matter of fact, I was sort of awed by his passion for finding the truth.

• Pro: Both Rose and Grant were struggling with things. We get to see some of their hardships via flashbacks and in present time. The issues steering the plot, Grant's reticence to start a relationship or maintain the friendship, as well as Rose's realization that maybe everything she had been hyper-focused on wasn't what she wanted, felt very authentic, and I think many could relate to these quandaries.

• Pro: The mystery of the gun kept me quite interested in the present day story, and I liked the searching for the missing pieces of the puzzle.

• Pro: Though the book tackled some serious issues - gun violence, divorce, sexual assault, it was not too serious. There were quite a few hilarious moments and some heartfelt ones too. I definitely sensed that end of an era nostalgia as well.

• Pro: I thought the ending was really good, and it's always great to end on a high note.

Overall: An interesting evening spent searching the story, the truth, and one's purpose.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Ann-Eliza  M..
327 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2018
I just stayed up all reading this book in one sitting. It might be the lack of sleep talking, but this book was FULL of deplorables. I'm not talking flawed characters, I mean absolutely worthless human beings. I thought I was reading a Rom-com based on what I'd heard about the book, but talk about false intel. This book was chocked full of just about every high school trope you can think of- bullying, hazing, gun violence, sexual assault, police race relations...the list goes on. It's a bit much for one book.
Don't get me wrong, the book isn't unreadable, it's just to cringed the whole way through. I kept waiting for our protagonists to learn about themselves and become better people, but *spoiler alert* they don't. At least not enough for me.
There's is a whodunnit plot line that keep the action and plot moving forward and that was decent, but not enough to make me forget what assholes most of these characters are.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 7 books255 followers
January 13, 2018
This book made me want to read and write YA again! So good it hurts! I felt every emotion possible while reading The Last Best Story. The banter, the relationships, and the little mysteries swelling up throughout the novel had me finishing the book in two days, even though, early on, I'd ordered myself to slow down so I could savor it. Because I KNEW I wanted to stay in the world of Rose and Grant as long as possible. Each page closer to the end of the book was bittersweet in the best way.
Profile Image for Thamy.
429 reviews26 followers
August 6, 2018
A little too slow and for not much.

Rose has quit the Gazette and decided not to go the college she'd been aiming for, she's also let go of her long-time crush, editor-in-chief Grant. It's been months and now it's prom, but Grant is not her date. When her best friend's boyfriend gets in trouble, her reporter self speaks louder and she goes after the vice principal. That's when the school goes into lockdown. Someone has a gun and Rose can't keep away from one last story.

I'd say this book's biggest problem was that it took too long for something to happen and then nothing much happens to compensate. In the end, I'd say this is more of a romance than a thriller. But because of the thriller, even the romance wasn't that well developed.

I did like Rose, I think her identity crisis was the big point in this book for me. Grant has always kept her rolling to a point she's not sure what is it she wanted herself and starts denying it all. And I also liked how it wasn't all Grant's fault, though it seems in the beginning. I won't spoil it all for you, of course, but it felt quite real that she'd have a breakdown. I think this author was very good in getting the personalities of each of her characters, not only Rose's.

The thing is, as much as I did enjoy Grant as a character, I didn't get the romance. I mean, it would be disappointing for me if the two weren't a thing at some point, I love romances and they were the main characters. Still, I don't see how Grant deserves Rose's affection. He's selfish and the little he did well didn't atone him in my opinion. So the romance was more of a fail, I couldn't cheer for them and perhaps I even cheered against them at some point.

As for the thriller, I wanted something more breathtaking. Something like This is Where It Ends. And the conclusion wasn't satisfying either. At a point I didn't even care what the answer to the whole mystery was, to be honest.

So, while this was well written and filled with good characters, it was neither a good romance nor a good thriller. I'm sure it took a lot of work to build all the story, so it's a pity the result was this underwhelming. It's still quick and pleasant to read, just not all it could have been.

Honest review based on an ARC provided by Edelweiss. Many thanks to the publisher for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,434 reviews898 followers
January 13, 2019
The format of this was challenging for me. I appreciate a writer who experiments with narrative, but in this case I thought the format got in the way of the flow of the story. It was a happened-in-one-night story about a lockdown at the prom, interspersed with flashbacks, told in a third-person omniscient style.

It wasn't really a thriller. It wasn't really a romance. I wasn't really sure what it was until I read the acknowledgments.

See my full thoughts on my review on JenRyland.com! Check out my Bookstagram! Or check out my Jen In Ten reviews on Youtube - get the lowdown on current books in 10-30 seconds!
Profile Image for Milena.
713 reviews78 followers
July 4, 2018
At first glance The Last Best Story looked like a fluffy summer contemporary but surprisingly it turned out to be a more complex story about gun violence and school safety. I enjoyed the story and I liked most of the characters, except Grant. He behaved like a jerk a lot of the times, lying to and manipulating his friends to get what he wanted. I really don't see how he can be a good love interest for any YA heroine. He spoiled the book for me a little, but overall, The Last Best Story was an enjoyable and a thought-provoking read.

*ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss
Profile Image for _sniper.force_.
259 reviews54 followers
September 19, 2020

3 Stars

- The chapters changed from the past to the present. It was very confusing because it was completely random. (Ex: Chapter 1: Present, Chapter 2: Past, Chapter 3: Past, Chapter 4, Present, Chapter 5 Present, Chapter 6 Past, Chapter 7, Present) It got me really confused because half the time I didn't understand what I was reading.
- The book wasn't that engaging. The only "interesting" part was
- The author wasn't able to get me engaged with the Gazette. It never gave a good description about why both characters (Rose and Grant) loved the paper.
- The story was written like a mystery novel even though I don't think it was intended to be one. I was more interested in finding why Marty did the things he did in the story and than the relationship between Grant and Rose.
Profile Image for (Love, Stars and Books).
248 reviews24 followers
January 26, 2018
(I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review from the Edelweiss.)

Book review: The last best story by Maggie Lehrman (2 stars)

“Something always happens.”

Title: The last best story
Authors: Maggie Lehrman
Format: kindle (eARC)
Genre: YA, romance, Contemporary
Rating: 2/5 stars
[Synopsis] (Taken from goodreads) 

Rose Regnero was a star reporter for her high school paper, destined for a career in journalism, when she abruptly quit two months ago, leaving behind her very-nearly-sort-of-boyfriend and editor-in-chief, Grant. Now she is trying to be normal at her senior prom, with a new boy and new interests, and isn’t looking back.

Grant was totally blindsided when Rose walked away from the Gazette. After all, they’d dedicated their lives to it for the past four years, had even planned on majoring in journalism together at Northwestern—which is why Grant is determined to entice Rose back. But whether it’s really to the paper or to him he’s not entirely sure.

When an alarm is set off at prom and the school goes on lockdown, Grant discovers that someone is loose in the building with a gun. But Rose, caught outside of the gym, knows differently. Will her instincts for a good story win out against her resolve to leave Grant and the paper behind?


(DISCLAIMER: This review is based on my opinion only and may contain coarse language)

Rose is the ace reporter for her high school paper, but she quit 2 months ago, leaving Grant; her almost boyfriend and Editor-in-chief behind. She attends the prom with a new boy and new interests and doesn’t look back. An alarm goes off and the school is on lockdown.

As the story unfolds we see Grant and Rose’s past.

Unfortunately, I really wasn’t a fan of this novel. I felt that it was kind of stuck as the entire story happens during prom. The story bounced between past and present which left me slightly confused at first before I understood what was going on.

I really wanted to DNF this book within the first few chapters, but I decided to carry on and give it a chance, and I actually did finish it.

I loved that it addresses very real and current world issues.

But I wasn’t a fan of the characters and story as it felt pretty flat to me. The story progression was okay, but nope, this book didn’t do it for me.

Profile Image for T.K. {Genie in a Novel}.
208 reviews47 followers
May 14, 2019
This is one of those moments when judging a book by a cover bit me in the behind. This was not at all what I expected it to be.

The structuring of the story was a little complicated with the constant flashbacks, prolonging the actual events of what the story was really about. It took forever to get to the actual "conflict" of the book where the prom goes on lock-down because of a supposed shooter in the school.

As far as characters go, Rose was okay, but I didn't understand how she could end up liking Grant after all the bashing she'd done. To me it just seemed like she was fed up with him, so the whole turnaround was like, what? Grant on the other hand was a little brat. He seemed okay at first, but then you realize how manipulative he is of his friends, especially when it comes to anything relating to the newspaper (which for him, is just about everything).

This book had the potential to be great give that it dealt with a very serious topic, but it was poorly executed. There wasn't enough focus on the issue of a school shooting.

Profile Image for Teenreadsdotcom.
696 reviews37 followers
August 15, 2018
Rose and Grant have been best friends since the start of high school and have worked side by side on their high school newspaper, the Gazette. In Maggie Lehrman’s THE LAST BEST STORY, the two are now at their senior year prom and Rose and Grant are no longer communicating. For some inexplicable reason, Rose quit the Gazette two months prior and left behind Grant, the editor-in-chief, and their future together as star journalists in college.

Now, Rose is at prom with a new guy, trying to forget about her old life and have a normal few months before college. Grant, being completely blindsided when Rose abandoned the Gazette and their friendship, is determined to win her back as a reporter, friend and maybe something more. Meanwhile, at the prom, a security alarm is set off and the high school goes on a lockdown due to someone being loose inside the building with a gun. Forgetting their past, Rose and Grant team up for one last story for the Gazette that could save their friendship and the safety of their classmates.

At first, Lehrman’s novel appeared to be a quintessential fun summer beach read. However, there is much depth to the novel, the storyline revolves around a potential school shooting and the character’s responses to that all within a few hours. Lehrman’s depictions of the situation were raw and realistic which I appreciated, as some YA novels seem to tackle serious pressing issues in a more superficial way. Also, the novel briefly discusses how race and sexuality impact the events at hand for Rose and Grant’s friends. Indeed, her writing was flawless; the reader could truly envision themselves in the character’s shoes and felt attached to the decisions they were making.

Even though the plot took place within a few hours, there were numerous flashbacks woven in throughout the novel so the reader could truly grasp the meaningful friendship of Grant and Rose and other anecdotes that provide a glimpse into their background. In addition, the two character’s perspectives alternated, which I found interesting as the reader could fully understand both of their thoughts and feelings as they reflected upon the situation. Lehrman crafted the characters beautifully, providing just the right amount of detail to understand them, but also kept the mystery palpable.

Just like Rose and Grant learned by the conclusion of the novel, readers can take away the message that appearances are deceiving. Indeed, as they place all of the pieces together, we learn that it is easy to jump to wrong conclusions without accurate facts. In a setting of high school, where gossip thrives, the characters are led down an incorrect slippery slope punctuated with preconceived notions. Due to the mysterious element of the novel, I was unable to put it down. I finished the book in one sitting, trying to decode all of the evidence and figure out who the shooter was, what motivated them to do it and if the information at hand was truly accurate. Personally, I was surprised with the end results and was in awe of the tactics Lehrman used to keep the reader engaged and guessing.

Reviewed by Ryan H., Teen Board Member
Profile Image for Rimpy Desrosiers.
112 reviews22 followers
July 29, 2018
I received this novel a while ago and because of that when I finally did pick it up I decided not to read the synopsis and go into the novel blind. I figured from the front cover (which is beautiful and cutesy and colourful) that this novel would be an allover easy read. This novel definitely wasn’t a totally easy read, a majority of the novel felt easy but there were so many intense topics being discussed.

I was completely surprised that this novel featured a school shooting threat. It was very out of no where, especially when the novel primarily featured these two characters that were having their own weird relationship whilst all of this was going on.

The writing of this novel was quite normal for any YA contemporary. I didn’t find it to be extraordinary, but it also wasn’t something that I altogether hated. It was easy to read and very easy to quickly get through.

As for the characters, I found them all (almost all) insufferable. They were wrapped up in their own world and didn’t really understand the severity of the situation taking place. They also had no care whatsoever for anyone else’s feelings. They did things because they wanted to and didn’t give a second thought to how another person would be affected. I ultimately only liked one or two of the characters of this novel, and neither of them were the main protagonists.

The plot was also something I’ve had to mull over for a bit after reading the novel. As entertained as I was throughout the novel, and I can’t deny that I was, this novel just didn’t sit entirely right with me. It was really weird to read about a potential school shooting but also have all of the characters running around acting like nothing out of the ordinary was happening. It was an interesting take on the school shooting plot line that has frequented several novels throughout these recent months, but it was just altogether a weird plot.

As weird as I found the entire plot and situation going on, I can’t deny that I did enjoy this novel. It was a quick read and it did feature some important topics, despite how unconventional the presentation of those topics were. I understood the direction that the author was trying to go in and I really did like the mystery element that was placed in this novel. It was not an entirely hard mystery to figure out, but it was a nice element.

All in all, I think that if you’re a fan of YA contemporary novels with romance and mystery dispersed throughout I would recommend you pick this novel up. If you’re looking to pick up a novel that features a school shooting as the primary plot line and does it well, I would highly recommend you pick up That’s Not What Happened by Kodi Keplinger.
Profile Image for Layla.
464 reviews4 followers
January 20, 2019
This is more of a 3.5 than a solid 4 for me.

As someone who used to work in journalism I really appreciated the story, what I struggled with, was the characters. I had a hard time relating to the main characters and related more to characters that were only very barely featured. Which is a problem for me. Good or bad, I want to be able to root for the main characters in some way. I just felt that the characters fell a little flat for me.

The showcasing of journalism was brilliant though. And again, the story itself was compelling, I just wish I could have liked the main characters.
Profile Image for Caroline.
138 reviews29 followers
December 22, 2018
I had no idea what the main premise of this story was going into it, but after reading it, I wished I had found out what the main story of the book was.

I'm just going to jump right into my thoughts on the book. We kept jumping back and forth between present and past, and it was very confusing in the first few chapters, because there wasn't a title at the top of the chapter page that said so.

Another thing,

The whole prom night story with the principal, seemed thrown into the book last minute, and it just seemed extremely out of place.

I did not enjoy this book, I had high hopes and I just wished they had exceeded my expectations.
Profile Image for Lauren R..
1,066 reviews288 followers
January 12, 2019
This was fine I guess. It annoyed me a lot and I definitely didn’t get the ship at all? Rose spent the whole book explaining the reasons she thought Grant was an idiot, while Grant spent the whole book actually being an idiot. Soooo why would I want them to be together? I liked the realness of certain aspects (high school life) but the rest was definitely an interesting, unlikely situation. I’m not sure what to say; this definitely disappointed me.
Profile Image for Nasty Lady MJ.
1,057 reviews16 followers
September 2, 2019
Ugh. I don't know. I watched the movie sort of simultaneously while reading it (because I'm that person) and the movie is far superior. I mean, Cary Grant. Also, probably shouldn't have read this one and probably wouldn't have had I known what a certain subplot was based on what happened yesterday.
Profile Image for Laura's Book Addiction.
2,676 reviews459 followers
August 10, 2018
“He was the thing she could chase forever and never catch, like the perfect story.”

2.5 stars

If it’s a cute fluffy story your looking for, then don’t let this cover fool you. The Last Best Story is a unfortunate tale of a annoying male character who is self centred and at one point his white privilege pissed me off so much when he put a black student in danger and he justified it by his need to have a girl start talking to him again.

I had such high hopes for this novel, it was on my most anticipated list of 2018 releases, but I just feel let down!!
Profile Image for Della Frazier.
28 reviews13 followers
December 31, 2019
I would give this 3.5 stars because of the timeline. There are areas of flashback sprinkled throughout that make the chapters messy and disorganized. I would have personally preferred if it was written in chronological order with phrases like '3 months later' to signify the change in time. Overall, I would recommend this book.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,525 reviews
February 13, 2018
I wasn't a fan of the cheating on both of their parts. He was dating someone and she was too. I did like that she realized it and try to focus on other things. This is a last story that they end up doing and figuring out their love for each other.
Profile Image for Beth Rodgers.
Author 6 books36 followers
July 7, 2018
'The Last Best Story' by Maggie Lehrman is provocative and intriguing, bringing a shadow of a doubt to the truth-finding process and how life throws curveballs that can throw one's life completely off-kilter.

Rose and Grant have been friends and newspaper buddies since freshman year. Over their time on the paper together, their relationship has stayed pretty constant, and they are generally found co-conspiring about how to work the story to their mutual benefit and present the best piece of writing possible. They also have gone from platonic friends to two people who seemingly have feelings for one another since they have kissed (albeit once) and spent so much of their free time together. Though they have dated separate people and Rose is at prom with another guy while Grant deals with his feelings over his ex-girlfriend while he attends prom solo, they find themselves drawn to each other through the draw of finding the truth.

When someone who has been banned from prom makes his way in, he is escorted out by the vice-principal, only to be accused later on of causing the lockdown due to his having a gun on site. The prom is then waylaid, of course due to the imminent danger everyone presumes is just outside the gym doors. When Rose finds herself in the thick of the story, she can't stop herself from getting involved, despite her every desire to quit the school paper (and, by extension, her friendship/relationship with Grant) and never look back. What she finds as she searches for answers is that nothing is as it seems, and other people may be involved that she wouldn't have considered in the first place.

In 'The Last Best Story,' Maggie Lehrman teaches readers to question anything and everything about the subject at hand. Appearances can be deceiving, and without all of the facts and hearing everyone's side of the story, the wrong conclusions can be jumped to and then bandied about, allowing further gossip to thrive, and causing the truth to become an uncertainty even when presented with evidence. Lehrman's ability to tell the story by searching for the facts rather than letting opinions take over the storyline speaks to the beauty of how this story is written. It brings up issues of race and sexuality among Rose's and Grant's friends and how those issues shape what is going on, but it doesn't fixate on them, and that is a hard line to balance oneself on. However, it speaks to the idea of newspaper stories working to state the facts and steering clear of editorial tendencies that are best used elsewhere.

A scintillating and impressive novel about the excitement of knowing one's calling and the search for the real story that brings about other lingering truths, 'The Last Best Story' should be on anyone's must-read list. Once you start it, it will be hard to put it down.

Beth Rodgers, Author of 'Freshman Fourteen' and 'Sweet Fifteen,' Young Adult Novels

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*
Profile Image for Kidlitter.
634 reviews7 followers
June 29, 2018
A DRC was provided for a fair and honest review by Edelweiss.

Would a high school junior really say to his vice-principal and future writer of college recommendation letters, "Mr. Hackenstratt, this is a super fun fight, but are you going to censor the paper or what?" If you can suspend disbelief and accept that Reporter Rose and Editor Grant are that sassy and confident, then you'll love this whip-smart romantic YA romp. So what if it hurtles between screwball sleuthing, and an uneasy nod to some of the threats facing today's youth - gun violence, sexual assault, divorce? Rose and Grant try to balance their self appointed roles as Crusadors for Truth with their competitive ambitions, and their growing mutual attraction, and Lehrman does a great job of slowly peeling away the layers of their history to relieve their motivation - or lack of - for getting involved. Their dialogue is straight out of the Veronica Mars 'verse, but not remotely adolescent and their hang ups are equally suited to older protagonists. Rose has a gnawing feeling she is "too grabby, too ambitious," but mostly she is upset that Grant doesn't appear to "like" her that way after years of co-managing their shared passion project. Then Grant is made editor instead of her, because "who would write all the articles if you're busy managing the staff?" Rose seethes and realizes she's following Grant's master plan for their lives, not her own. So she changes her entire life plans in the last few months of senior year in an effort to forget him. Clueless, narcissistic Grant still wants her to be his star reporter and is vaguely aware that if he expressed any romantic interest, she'd be his forevermore. But somehow he can't bring himself to commit. Ugh. Quitting the paper doesn't make Rose happier but she's trying, until at prom the school goes on lockdown with an apparent shooter on the loose. Grant is stuck inside the gym, but Rose is at large in the school, and there's a story to follow. Guess what Rose (with Grant egging her on) decides to do? Lehrman succeeds in making Rose appealing enough to root for, and Grant finally grows up a little, but the other characters fade into the background and the threat of tragedy looming throws a shadow over the otherwise bright tone of the book. Pair it with a viewing of Lehrman's favorite film, His Girl Friday, and see which one has legs.
Profile Image for G.
698 reviews12 followers
March 20, 2020

Unfortunately, this was another doozy in the romance department. However, I enjoyed the other 90% of the plot. A student is seen with a gun and the school immediately goes on lockdown during prom. Rose inadvertently ends up in the same room with the student in question, Marty (because Grant is a fucking idiot). After she hears Marty's side, Rose uses her investigative journalism skills to find out the truth on the gun's origins. However, everything culminates towards the very end so it was like a very fast and unsatisfying rush after waiting for so long.

Rose's identity crisis as a senior is probably relatable to most teens as well. After spending 4 years at The Gazette, she abruptly quits with only three months left of senior year. She starts dating JB, a swimmer. All this confuses Grant because in Rose's words, Grant only ever saw her as an extension of The Gazette/him rather than an individual. Grants thinks journalism must be Rose's world in the same way it is to him and she even questions if she ever enjoyed it!!!! Anyways, the more I write about this the more angry I am so I am going to stop.

Grant is such an unlikeable character. He was selfish and a shitty friend and he never put Rosie first. In the flashbacks, Rosie lists why she was unhappy with Grant and the many times Grant overshadowed her. So I am not sure why they . He doesn't actually redeem himself and Grant realizing that Rose was the one who he wanted was so disappointing. Giving JB a confession note addressed to Rose and asking him to go back into the school under the guise that Rose was inside? What the fuck, dude?

Rose deserves better!

Despite the small amount of time we Rose's mom appears in the book, she makes such an impact. She is so supportive of her daughter and I wish we saw her more.

Overall, I appreciate the focus on journalism, a not so subtle nod towards gun control, and a quip on what it means to be Black in relation to the police.

TW for sexual assault.

Notes on diversity:
- Rose is half Italian and Cuban.
- Nick is gay.
- Jenna is Chinese.
- JB is Black.
Profile Image for Kara.
140 reviews
October 6, 2018
The Last Best Story is a YA novel that focuses on two main characters - Rose and Grant - and their inability to admit their true feelings for each other. With Grant as the high school newspaper's editor-in-chief and Rose as the newspaper's star reporter, the novel is billing itself as a retelling of the classic Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell movie, His Girl Friday. But for the fact the book centers around Rose and Grant's obsession with getting the scoop and the fact there is clearly some unresolved feelings between the two, the parallel is lost on me. Especially, especially, especially because the events of the book take place over the course of one evening - prom night - and the dramatic twist that the evening takes when someone allegedly brings a gun to the school where prom is being held. Given today's environment, I had a really hard time getting over this as the plot point - although another reviewer commented that perhaps this is somehow a commentary on society that shouldn't be judged so viscerally. I also had a hard time getting past what, to me, seemed an unbelievable handling of and response towards the events (for example, what appeared to be the lax attitude of the police, the parents, and event the students in the situation).

There were a few positive points, I loved Rose's introspection on why she maintained certain things as secrets from those who cared about her most, including the fact she was sexually assaulted by a fellow student (there was a LOT of hard and deep stuff in this book). And, on that point, her mom's response when she finally tells her what happened (though the fact the perpetrator seemingly receives no punishment for at least those actions of his is perhaps a sad commentary on society's treatment of such situations). I also did love that Rose dare I say stuck to her guns with her decision to not follow Grant to college and attempt to make her own way ... not Grant's.

In short, this wasn't a "warm, funny" read for me.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Riley.
447 reviews1 follower
February 18, 2019
As a fellow newspaper nerd, I loved this book so much, and from a writing/technical standpoint, I think it does a lot of difficult things well. It's all-around a good, fun YA contemporary, with character depth. I wish it were getting more attention!

The details around high school newspaper life were accurate and believable, and really took me back to my own high school days.

I saw a lot of myself in both Rose and Grant -- which makes for kind of a strange combination, haha, but that's OK. I particularly loved Rose and her emotional journey (which is not unlike Isla's in ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, if I remember correctly), and I enjoyed the way that we see each of her layers/secrets unfold over the course of the story. Grant could be kind of a jerk, but the author does a good job of keeping him human and likable enough.

The side characters are all well-drawn and interesting in their own rights, too. I especially liked Rose's mom, and JB, who is a great guy and totally the type I would have crushed on myself.

The dialogue was both believable and extra witty, which was super fun, and made the romance sparkle, which can sometimes be difficult to achieve with a friends-to-lovers dynamic.

And then there's the whole school shooter aspect... Personally I feel like the author did a good job of showing the tension of a lockdown, and addressing the issue of gun violence in our country, without making it the focus. (The whole thing is probably still too triggering for someone who has lived through it, though, so I wouldn't recommend the book to a survivor or anything like that. Doing so would just be insensitive.) I was very glad that there actually was no shooter, and I wonder if, for many readers, it might be helpful to know that upfront? (Hence why I'm not using spoiler tags, and in fact am sort of highlighting this part of the review.) Because then the characters' emotions and reactions can still be real, without the reader having to stress about their physical safety, or bring real-world trauma into the story.

Last but not least, there is the My Girl Friday connection. I have never seen the movie, so I had no context for that, but after finishing the book, I looked it up and found myself quite impressed by both the parallels and the improvements that Lehrman made. She did a phenomenal job transposing the premise onto a contemporary high school setting, but then she switched up the race issue to make it more relevant to modern society, and she ultimately had the characters show signs of growth and change, thereby shifting the ending to be truly optimistic, rather than a tongue-in-cheek wink at a never-ending cycle.
Profile Image for maggie.
7 reviews
May 22, 2022
OMG THIS IS LIKE THE WORST BOOK EVER. I would give this story zero stars if I could. the plot skips from past to present randomly and the way the chapters are formatted is so weird and confusing. spoilers ahead! Grant is the most unlikeable love interest ever. he is rude, manipulative, selfish, and a cheater. he literally thinks "if he opened this door he could be letting someone in as well as letting himself out" YET HE STILL TRIES TO OPEN THE DOOR POTENTIALLY LETTING THE SHOOTER INSIDE THE GYM FULL OF PEOPLE JUST SO HE COULD WRITE AN ARTICLE THAT HE VERY WELL COULD HAVE WRITTEN ON HIS PHONE. he is also weirdly obsessed with the paper and is so mean to Rose. he calls her heartless and gives the worst apology ever when she quits the newspaper even though at this point he's supposedly in love with her. also rose is just stupid. like shes in a safe locked classroom where no one would expect her to be but instead of staying there she leaves the safety of the classroom to go to the newsroom TO WRITE A FUCKING ARTICLE FOR HER HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER NO ONE EVEN READS AND SHES NOT EVEN A PART OF ANYMORE. then in the newsroom, she encounters the shooter. honestly, at this point in the story, I was so done. the whole thing felt like a mockery of school shootings and was making me so mad I stopped reading

side note- the newspaper aspect was also just unrealistic what freshman in high school is staying at school till 3 am to finish a newspaper and then going to a diner. also, who is letting them stay at school all night? where is the administrator? club supervisor? parents?
Profile Image for JoLee.
1,568 reviews58 followers
December 27, 2018
I really enjoyed Maggie Lehrman's debut The Cost of All Things and was eager to see what she'd do next.

The Last Best Story is a bit of a conundrum. It's kind of a crazy caper, and I absolutely loved that part of it. We have Rosie and Grant, serious about the newspaper (well, that is until Rosie quit), and when things go slantwise at the prom, their investigative instincts kick in. They have to get to the bottom of it all. Even Rosie, who has sworn off the paper and Grant.

I also really loved the relationship between Rosie and Grant and how it's all a jumble right now. It was fun to see it work itself out.

The thing I'm not that sure about in this story is that the reason the prom goes on lockdown is because someone has a gun in the building. This is (obviously) a serious concern these days. Maggie Lehrman treads this fine line between comedy and tragedy, and I'm not sure it was entirely satisfying.

Still, I enjoyed this book, even if the treatment of gun violence made me a little uncomfortable, and I'll definitely read Maggie's next book.

Review copy from Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
387 reviews33 followers
August 29, 2018
This was such a cute story! I didn't like it quite as much as I thought after reading the blurb, but it was still pretty darn good. The journalism aspect was particularly interesting to me as I went to journalism school. All the deadlines and newspaper work nights brought back lots of memories of my time working for my college paper, which I loved. Grant was a character I also identified with, with his obsession with the paper and desire to do everything to the absolute best of its ability. But Rose's character also spoke to me as well, with her wariness about whether or not she was doing the right thing or going down the right path.

The story as a whole was a bit crazy and just a step away from unrealistic. However, I enjoyed it nevertheless. The whole misunderstanding with the active shooter/gun took a serious subject and almost made light of it? It could have been done a lot worse, which I'm glad it didn't and stuck its foot in its mouth, but it could have been handled a bit better as well. I more than anyone understands the journalistic desire to find the truth, but I'm worried the actions of the teenagers promoted bad practices when it comes to what to do when there's a lockdown situation.

Anyway, overall, I really liked this story—maybe not the way the chapters were broken up or organized—but the story as a whole was can't-put-down, and thrilling.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jeannie.
77 reviews48 followers
September 18, 2019
Absolutely frustrating to read the entire time. The blurb on the back was what got me to read this but the use of school shootings, sexual assault, toxic masculinity, police brutality, and racial tensions along with the background of a “who done it” mystery were all terrible and horribly done. The author uses these like tokens in a game, hoping it would better the plot of the story but I’m so sorry it did not. I honestly don’t know what was going on in her head but she handled these really tough and extremely sensitive topics in a poor way, she glossed over all of these and timed each one in the story sort of out of the blue. Each one would hit you like whiplash bc they just come up with no set or or sensitive handling. She should’ve just stuck with the rom-com premise of the main characters who just liked each other, not shove a crap ton of themes into a rom-com story.

Lets not forget each of the damn characters. Rosie and Grant? FRUSTRATING AS HELL, if they would just talk to each other instead of hinting at what bothered them, that would solve a lot of their problems. Also Grant and Rosie are a bunch of cheaters. Grant cheated on Mare while Rosie used JB. Jenna is a terrible friend and Fisher is a complete psycho. It’s like each of the characters are extreme stereotypes of 90’s cartoon high schoolers.

Honest to god I’m giving this story a one.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Christine.
178 reviews2 followers
June 23, 2019
Entertaining and exciting

I read this book in one sitting. It was enthralling to say the least. While I have issues with Grant- so many issues- Rose was a relatable, likable, and well rounded character. I love her and would die for her. And even my issues with Grant were everything to do with the believability of his actions. Another fully formed character.
Another thing I enjoyed about this book was the amount of times I was proven wrong. I take notes while reading and a FEW times I’d note something like “but I’m sure it won’t get mentioned” but lo and behold. The author was two steps ahead.
Black student gets sent back into a school during lockdown? Bet it won’t be mentioned how seriously dangerous that is- haha jokes on me because it does get mentioned. And handled with care and repercussions. (In my opinion Grant should have faced MORE repercussions for that move. But I digress)
It was entertaining and exciting and I very much recommend it to those looking for a contemporary with higher than normal stakes.
I also actually highly recommend this to ya readers who are actual teens.
Profile Image for Heather.
2,017 reviews9 followers
April 13, 2019
Oh, dear, this was a bit of a train wreck, to say the least. The plot was disjointed and the constant flashbacks within a chapter, without any warning, had me struggling with the flow of the story. Also, until nearly the middle of the book, nothing happened and, even when the shooter finally made an entrance, I wasn't that impressed. The Last Best Story lacked suspense and I had almost given up on the book at this point.

Rose was quite a good character, but Grant was rather disappointing, especially the way he lied to and manipulated his friends. I didn't think he was worthy of Rose. The Last Best Story had far too many characters, many of them unnecessary, and I didn't care for any of them.

This book had the potential to be a great read as it dealt with a very serious topic, but it was poorly executed. There was too much emphasis on the prom and not enough on the issue of a school shooting.
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