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Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah
Cover of Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah
Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah
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The New York Times Bestselling duo behind Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily return with twins out to throw the party of a lifetime—or at least the best...
The New York Times Bestselling duo behind Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily return with twins out to throw the party of a lifetime—or at least the best...
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Description-

  • The New York Times Bestselling duo behind Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily return with twins out to throw the party of a lifetime—or at least the best party of high school!
    Siblings Sam and Ilsa Kehlmann have spent most of their high school years throwing parties for their friends—and now they've prepared their final blowout, just before graduation.
    The rules are simple: each twin gets to invite three guests, and the other twin doesn't know who's coming until the partiers 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, as well...in rather surprising ways.

Excerpts-

  • From the book One

    ILSA

    My brother is way too obsessed with our grandma’s sex life.

    “I think Czarina has taken a lover,” Sam says, holding out his hand to me. “Spatula. Stat.” My job is to maximize the chef’s surgical efficiency by passing him the gadgets he requests. I hand him the spatula. “That’s an egg-­turner spatula. The spoon spatula, Ilsa,” he says, like it’s so obvious. “Observe!”

    I look at his bowl, filled with cheese and spinach. Seems like any old spatula could work in that bowl, but if it were up to me, we’d order takeout from Zabar’s and not bother with DIY cooking at all. Sam’s an amazing cook. But all that work! No, thank you. He gets me for a half hour as sous-­chef, and the rest of the meal is on him. My job is planning fabulousness, not catering it. I should have been the gay man, not my twin brother.

    I hand Sam the spoon spatula. “What makes you think Czarina has taken a lover?”

    “She’s gone to Paris three times in the last six weeks.”

    “She’s a fashion buyer. That’s her job.”

    “There’s something different about these trips. I feel it. Did you notice how . . . nice she seems when she gets back? It’s upsetting.”

    “What are you really upset about? That she’s been nice, or that she took Mom and Dad and not you to Paris with her for the weekend?” I love when Czarina goes away and lets us use her apartment. Then I get to be the queen of her castle, and not have to share Sam with her.

    “That’s the thing! She never takes Mom and Dad anywhere. Says they’re bourgeois bores.”

    “I love ’em, but they kind of are.”

    “Don’t be bitchy.”

    “Don’t ask me to be anything other than who I am.”

    Sam laughs, then raises an eyebrow at me. “Aren’t you just a little concerned? Czarina even said we didn’t have to leave her bedroom door locked. Of all the dinner parties she’s let us host in her apartment, her one and only strict rule has been”—­and here Sam mimics Czarina’s gangster-­worthy growl—­“ ‘no teenage miscreants shall miscreant in my bedroom.’ ”

    “Yeah, that’s why she always shows up during dessert, despite saying she was taking a night out to go to the symphony, and even when she’s locked away all the liquor. The control freak can’t take our word for it that we won’t let anyone in her bedroom or break into her booze.” I reconsider what I just said, and then amend my statement. “I mean, take my word for it. She knows Sam the Saint won’t break her rules.”

    “Not true. Remember the party when #Stantastic wanted to see Czarina’s vintage Dior gowns?”

    “You texted Czarina and got her permission to go into her closet. That’s not rule breaking.”

    “#Stantastic had a beer!”

    I let out a sigh. “Scandal.”

    What constitutes legit rule breaking? Perhaps that party two years ago when Parker and I jimmied our way into Czarina’s brandy collection and then ended the party making out on her bed, with the bedroom door locked so no one else could get in. Best aperitif ever. Miscreants, and proud! Czarina was in Milan, so I knew for a fact she wouldn’t be barging in. My parents say I’m too reckless, but even I know not to expose myself to Czarina’s in-­your-­face wrath....

About the Author-

  • Rachel Cohn is the author of critically acclaimed YA novels Very LeFreakYou Know Where to Find MeCupcakeShrimpGingerbread, and Beta. A graduate of Barnard College, she lives and writes in Los Angeles.

    When not writing during spare hours on weekends, David Levithan is editorial director at Scholastic and the founding editor of the PUSH imprint, which is devoted to finding new voices and new authors in teen literature. His acclaimed novels Boy Meets Boy and The Realm of Possibility started as stories he wrote for his friends for Valentine's Day (something he's done for the past 22 years and counting) that turned themselves into teen novels. He's often asked if the book is a work of fantasy or a work of reality, and the answer is right down the middle—it's about where we're going, and where we should be.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 29, 2018
    Nearly 18-year-old twins Ilsa and Sam are throwing a final dinner party at their grandmother Czarina’s rent-controlled apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The party is final for two reasons: Czarina has finally agreed to sell her lease for an outrageous sum of money, allowing her to move to Paris, and the twins are graduating from high school. Described by Sam and Ilsa in alternating chapters, the dinner does not turn out as either anticipated. The twins and some of their guests are harboring secrets and grudges, and by the time the evening is over none of the relationships is quite the same. In their fifth collaboration, Cohn and Levithan (The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily) present another love letter to New York City while exploring a complicated sibling relationship. The duo excels at creating witty characters who deal with real-life struggles in heartwarming, humorous ways, but this novel’s funny moments rely less on sharp banter than on snarky comments made by a sock puppet named Caspian, undercutting some of its emotional impact. Ages 12–up. Agent:
    (for Cohn) Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, William Morris Endeavor; (for Levithan) Bill Clegg, Clegg Agency.

  • School Library Journal

    February 1, 2018

    Gr 9 Up-Sam and Ilsa, twins in New York City about to graduate and head off into adulthood, plan one last delectable dinner party at their grandmother's rent-controlled deluxe apartment (while she's in Paris) before it is sold. Each is responsible for half of the guest list, and each has kept their half a secret. On each list are strangers, friends, exes, and more. Anxious Sam and rebellious Ilsa will come to terms with their plans for the future and for what might have been from the past. Should Sam push himself to leave his safe fortress in the city to pursue his musical dreams? Should Ilsa pass up on her chance at college to stay near home as a nanny? Teens will sympathize with the sensation of being on the brink of adulthood, and feeling as if the future hinges on the choices made in this one moment. Sam and Ilsa are well off, and their conversations and dinner parties seem a little pretentious. But the sincerity of the characters' emotions elevates the story. While the guests at the party are easily distinguishable, we really learn the most about Sam and Ilsa; by the end of this short novel, readers will cheer for the difficult choices they make. VERDICT Fans of Cohn and Levithan's previous collaborations will enjoy this one as well.-Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2018
    This farcical dramedy takes you from appetizers to dessert--but may not leave you feeling sated.It's senior year for brother and sister Sam and Ilsa and time for one final dinner party at their grandmother Czarina's rent-controlled apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. (Czarina's forebears fled Eastern Europe during the pogroms.) The rules are simple: The twins may each invite three people and see how the guests interact. On Sam's side are Ilsa's ex, the suave, ballroom-dancing, Dominican and African-American Parker; Sam's own ex, Jason Goldstein-Chung; and Johan, an Afrikaner whom Sam fell in lust with on the subway. Ilsa's list consists of her school friend Li Zhang; the rude socialite KK Kingsley (presumed white); and Frederyk Podhalanski, a blond Polish exchange student who communicates mostly through his sock puppet, Caspian. Over the course of the evening (narrated in alternating chapters from Ilsa's and Sam's points of view), this mix of former, current, and future lovers fight, drink, scream at one another, drink, philosophize, drink, and (you guessed it) drink some more. The tone of the book is humorous, although it often toes the farcical line from well on the other side. That rare breed of teen reader who quotes Auntie Mame, Absolutely Fabulous, and Neil Simon will devour this, but others may find the characters and scenario excessively mannered.This sweet treat of a story is akin to a croquembouche--light, rich, and delicious but nutritionally lacking. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    February 1, 2018
    Grades 9-12 The titular last hurrah takes place at the tony Manhattan apartment of Sam and Ilsa's grandmother. She's moving to Paris; they're graduating high school; and the apartment, the center of their lives, has been sold. The twins have invited guestsSam's old boyfriend and potential new ones, Ilsa's ex and possible nextwho stir up old feelings and provide opportunities to hash out insecurities, both mutual and personal. Another in Cohn and Levithan's series that uses the city as a backdrop, this reads like a cross between two classic movies: You Can't Take It with You (a cast of offbeat characters, including a kid who communicates through a sock puppet) and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (arch dialogue, bitter recriminations, and one very long night). At times over the top (the party has a Liberace theme), the frippery occasionally gets in the way of the meatier bits of the story: Sam's anxieties and Ilsa's scramble to discover who she really is. But an epilogue ties the loose ends together beautifully and will give some readers hope for their own futures. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: From Nick and Norah to Dash and Lily, this coauthor pair knows how to pick 'em. Stock up.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

  • VOYA, starred review "It is purely a pleasure to see these characters bounce off one another."

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    Random House Children's Books
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