The Last Present

by Wendy Mass
First sentence: “When you’ve drawn breath for nearly a hundred years, not much surprises you.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Others in the series: 11 Birthdays, Finally, 13 Gifts
Content: There some kissing (a first kiss) and a bit of fudging the truth, but other than that, nothing objectionable. Sits quite happily with the rest of the series in the middle grade (3-5th grade) section of the bookstore.

Amanda and Leo have gone without talking for a year. Again. This time, though, it wasn’t a fight that did it: Angelina — the mysterious, magical woman in the town of Willow Falls — asked them to. Because when Amanda and Leo don’t talk, they have the power travel through time.

This time, they’re tasked with going back in time to fix their friend’s sister’s birthday party. See, Angelina bestows a “benediction” of protection on all the children of Willow Falls, something that will keep them safe. But she didn’t make it in time to help Grace (that’s the friend’s sister), and every attempt she made in the intermittent 10 years didn’t work either. And she’s tasked Amanda and Leo with going back and making sure that Grace’s benediction happens. Three times.

It sounds simple, and in many ways it is: Amanda and Leo head back to a different year each day over the course of a week, and all they have to do is fix one little thing at each birthday party. But as they find out, it’s not as easy as it sounds. And then there’s the problem that all this might be more about Angelina than it is about Grace.

While it’s nothing earth-shattering or ground-breaking, it’s a very sweet little book. I liked how Mass brought in all the elements of the whole series, and though this is Amanda and Leo’s follow-up story (they were always my favorite, anyway), Rory and Tara do have parts to play. It’s very much one of those “on the cusp of adulthood” books: Amanda and Leo have their first kiss, and they are beginning to make decisions that will effect their future. But even with that, it’s a simple, sweet (I know: I keep saying that. There really is no better word.) story about moving on and making things right.

And a fitting end to this series.

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