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Before I Let Go Paperback – Jan. 1 2019
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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp (This Is Where It Ends) comes Before I Let Go, an emotional thriller about a suspicious death, a friend desperate for answers, and their small town's sinister secrets.
Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their tiny snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. But as Kyra starts to struggle with her bipolar disorder, Corey's family moves away. Worried about what might happen in her absence, Corey makes Kyra promise that she'll stay strong during the long, dark winter.
Then, just days before Corey is to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused, because Kyra said she wouldn't hurt herself. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones, saying Kyra's death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she's a stranger.
The further Corey investigates―and the more questions she asks―the greater her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. Can she piece together the truth about Kyra's death and survive her visit?
Perfect for readers looking for:
- Mystery books for teens
- Bipolar teen characters
- Asexual characters
Praise for Before I Let Go:
A New York Times Bestseller!
2019 ALA Rainbow List
2018 Teen Choice Book of the Year Nominee
"With exceptional handling of everything from mental illness to guilt and a riveting, magic realist narrative, this well wrought, haunting novel will stick with readers long after the final page."―Booklist *STARRED REVIEW*
"Compulsive readability… Intriguingly spooky"―Kirkus Reviews
"This sophomore novel from Nijkamp will haunt readers... The honest reflection of mental illness, suicide, friendship, and being an outsider provides ample topics for book discussion."―School Library Journal
"[A] reflective examination on love and returning home... Nijkamp has an uncommon talent for drawing readers deep into the psyches of her characters."―Publishers Weekly
Also by Marieke Nijkamp:
This Is Where It Ends
Even If We Break
From the Publisher
|At the End of Everything||This Is Where It Ends||Even If We Break||Before I Let Go|
|Don’t miss more from Marieke Nijkamp!||A group of teens in a juvenile detention center try to survive a hostile world and a raging pandemic by taking care of each other.||Four students struggle as their high school is held hostage by a boy with a weapon.||Five friends with years of history and secrets spend a day in a cabin and not everyone will make it out.||A girl investigates her best friend’s icy death in a secretive Alaskan town.|
|What’s it about?||- Neurodivergent MC - Nonbinary MC - Found family - Apocalyptic setting||- Viral Tiktok book - Trans rep - Hard-hitting topic - Conversation starter||- Trans MC - Friend drama - D&D gone wrong - NERDS - Murder cabin||- Mental health rep - Icy, small-town setting - Murder mystery - Slow horror|
"With exceptional handling of everything from mental illness to guilt and a riveting, magic realist narrative, this well wrought, haunting novel will stick with readers long after the final page." ― Booklist
About the Author
- Publisher : Sourcebooks Fire; Reprint edition (Jan. 1 2019)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1492668079
- ISBN-13 : 978-1492668077
- Item weight : 391 g
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 2.44 x 20.96 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #132,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from Canada
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I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review from Sourcebooks Fire, but I had already gotten it from my local library a few months ago. I had tagged this book as a 3 star read on Goodreads. The book gave me chills throughout due to the sentiment mentioned above, but that's pretty much the only thing that remained with me. It was a decent read, but if I had to recommend a book from this author, it would be "This Is Where it Ends". The plot, while intriguing, left me a bit cold at the end, and the characters weren't as memorable as those in the author's other book.
I'm not really sure what to think of this book. I don't know if I missed the point or if the point was just not there like I think. It just feels like this book had no purpose. The description makes it out to be a kind of mystery but it didn't feel like it. Kyra ends up dead at the beginning of the book and Corey, who had moved away for school, goes back to her hometown for the funeral and whatnot. Corey never seemed to believe her death was an accident for some reason. Apparently Kyra would never even think about suicide, which seemed a little naive on her part because mental health is so much more complicated that this story made it out to be.
Also I''m not sure if the town was supposed to be a cult but it really felt like it. I can't even explain it all but they were obsessed with Kyra for some weird reason when for most of her life they shunned her because of her bipolar disorder? It was just SO confusing. And then the author kind of added an almost paranormal aspect to the book which didn't fit AT ALL.
It was almost like the author tried to right a positive story about mental health and it didn't didn't go well at all. It's not that the mental health issues were portrayed badly exactly but that they didn't fit. In some parts mental health was almost magical and other times the characters were being shunned for it. There was no consistency at all.
All the characters felt pretty boring also. There was no development and I found we really didn't get to know any of them at all. There was a lot of back and forth between present day and the past and some times I swear I didn't know where I was. It was just not a fun book to read at all and it really didn't give me much.
I'm going to be blunt here and just come out and say it - I did not like this book, and I'm hugely disappointed. I read the synopsis, and immediately knew I wanted to read "Before I Let Go". It sounds like it would have everything I love in a book - suspense and mystery, a strong female friendship, a fast-paced plot, and an incredible setting. Obviously, I set the bar way too high, as this book did not deliver in any of these areas, and I feel like I wasted my time.
I'm wracking my brain, attempting to come up with something I liked about this book, but I'm coming up short, and that is really not good. I lived in the Yukon for nearly two years, and I loved it, despite the cold, long winters. I was hoping that by reading a story set in Alaska, I might be taken back, through the author's written words, to a place similar to the one I loved so much. Alas, my hopes were not realized. I think the author intended for the town of Lost to feel atmospheric and creepy, but I did not ever get a clear picture of this town at all. I know it was small, the main industry was mining, and there was a lake (or was it a river?) where Kyra drowned beneath the ice, but that was about it. Oh yeah, there was an abandoned spa adjacent to some hot springs where Kyra and Corey hung out, and where Kyra lived for a while before she died. I think this building was supposed to feel atmospheric and creepy, too, but again, any descriptions that were there were not memorable at all - the author could have been writing about a small town in Idaho or Saskatchewan for all it made me feel. Take it from someone who has lived there, the author definitely did not adequately represent the beauty of the north, in my opinion!
As for the characters, that was another big problem. Even though the book was written from Corey's point of view, I still didn't get a good handle on her. Her dad abandoned the rest of her family, she wanted to become an astronomer, and she was afraid of the dark. I think she played a sport at her new private school, but it was only mentioned once so I forget what sport it was. And she may or may not be gay, but again, it was only mentioned once, so I guess that wasn't too important, either.
Kyra could have been a more interesting character than Corey, but because she was so poorly developed, I didn't get to really enjoy her at all. (Plus, she's dead, so not too much point getting attached.) We're told over and over again about how the town didn't accept her after her diagnosis, and we hear in flashbacks her complaints that she didn't ever fit in, so it was really strange to me that once Corey moved away, within a matter of months, the entire town of Lost changed their tune and praised Kyra for bringing them all together through her painting. And how, exactly, did Kyra's paintings bring the town together? I have no flipping idea. Really, I'm shaking my head in bafflement, because I truly don't understand how this all came about. I think the restaurant/pub in town had a few of Kyra's paintings on the wall, and somehow this translated into Kyra saving the town. If you are in any way confused by this, trust me, reading the book will not help in the least. Same thing with Kyra's bipolar disorder. I wanted to know more about Kyra's mental illness, and feel what she was feeling, but because we only get snippets from Corey's point of view, I really felt like an outsider looking in, trying my best to guess at what Kyra was dealing with. I wasn't made to feel anything, truth be told.
Which leads me to another thing I didn't like in this book: the plot. The plot was so slow, and not much happened. Actually, that's not true. Some potentially exciting things happened, but because they were written in such a bizarre fashion, I had a hard time deciding if Corey was dreaming or hallucinating or what! The only reason I continued reading was because I wanted to find out exactly what happened to Kyra, and when the final twist was revealed, I had to roll my eyes in frustration. I can't believe I read through the entire book for that! It was ridiculous. Honestly, I give up. I can't bring myself to say any more, and I can't in good conscience recommend this book to anyone.
My rating: 1.5 stars
Top reviews from other countries
made me shed a tear (i am not the who cries a lot)
Corey and Kyra's friendship felt so real and important and somehow both strong and fragile, like a Prince Rupert's drop. I've had a friendship like that (though it looked different), so I appreciated seeing that tension on page.
I really appreciated Eileen, Roshan, Sam, and Aaron as side characters. And of all the other people in Lost, I found Piper in particular to be the creepiest.
I do wish we knew more about Corey. I feel like I know her voice really well as a reader, and her relationship with Kyra over the past few years, but I only know a few other facts or stories about her. But ultimately, this feels like a book about Kyra and Corey-and-Kyra more than one about Corey, so maybe that's okay.
I liked the asexual representation, but I wished Corey's questioning about her romantic orientation came through more clearly.