Sam and Ilsa Kehlmann have spent most of their high school years throwing dinner parties, and now they’ve prepared their final blowout, just before graduation. The rules for the twins are simple: they each get to invite three guests, and the other twin doesn’t know who’s coming until the guests show up at the door. With Sam and Ilsa, the sibling revelry is always tempered with a large dose of sibling rivalry, and tonight is no exception.
One night. One apartment. Eight people. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, we all know the answer is plenty. But plenty also goes right – in rather surprising ways.
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have a feeling this is one of those books you’ll really like or really won’t. I am a big fan of this writing partnership (I loved Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares) so I knew just what to expect and it didn’t disappoint. It feels like quite a short book, I seemed to fly through it, but given the whole novel takes place over the course of one pivotal night this is possibly no bad thing.
This is Sam and Ilsa’s last hurrah, the final dinner party they will hold in their Grandmother’s apartment in New York before she sells up and emigrates to Paris. This is also the last party before Sam and Ilsa and their friends head off to college or whatever adventure their future holds. It’s a chance to say goodbye but also to resolve their issues, get their revenge and settle scores.
They each invite three guests and it’s safe to say their choice of guests are interesting. There are best friends, potential love interests, ex boyfriends and a couple of wildcards (strangers they met and invited). It certainly makes for a rather charged and volatile evening.
I did love the amount of diversity in the characters, some of them are just so wonderfully out there. I will admit that at times it’s a little pretentious and a little over the top but I didn’t mind that. In some ways it’s like watching an episode of Dawson’s Creek. The language, emotional maturity and self awareness is a little unbelievable for a bunch of 18 year olds (would 18 year olds even throw a dinner party?). It is however very typical Cohn and Levithan, complex, emotional and incredibly engaging.
I’m not sure I could really say there was any character I particularly loved or could relate to, hence the 4 stars, but they all had interesting stories and backgrounds which were fascinating to read. I did find myself becoming emotionally invested, particularly in Sam’s story.
What I particularly loved though was how despite taking place within one building in one night the authors brought so much into the story and somehow managed to give such a sense of being in New York. The mix of characters, the building and its residents all just felt so right and so real you didn’t ever have to step outside.
I very much enjoyed this book. It may not have stolen the place of Dash and Lily in terms of favorites but with such an interesting mix of characters it’s still a pretty good read.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. As always all views are my own
4 thoughts on “Review: Sam & Ilsa’s Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan”
I’ve not heard of this one before but it sounds quite interesting. I love books where there’s a few people to follow and get invested in. Great review Ali!
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There are some very interesting and different characters in this one. Not necessarily all likable but fun to read. This just came out last week but haven’t seen it around much for some reason.
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I do like the premise and it makes sense that this is something to speed through. And it’s good that there was such a great mix of characters and that you could get invested in them. Great review!
I haven’t read these two authors together. I guess I should try them out. You make this one sound good!