Before You Go by James Preller

Before You Go
Author: James Preller
Genre: Young Adult
Format: ebook
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: 7-17-12
The summer before his senior year, Jude (yes, he’s named after the Beatles song) gets his first job, falls in love for the first time, and starts to break away from his parents. Jude’s house is kept dark, and no one talks much—it’s been that way since his little sister drowned in a swimming pool seven years ago when Jude was supposed to be watching her. Now, Jude is finally, finally starting to live. Really live. And then, life spins out of control. Again. – Goodreads

Before You Go opens with a very normal teenage activity – the first day of a summer job.  Jude looks and acts like a normal teen just trying to earn some extra cash, but the weight of his sister’s death rides heavily on his shoulders and has not only changed Jude, but his whole family’s dynamic.  It was particularly heartbreaking to read about his mother, who is obviously still suffering deeply, as one could imagine.  As a family, their lives are in suspended animation; not going back, but not moving forward, either.  When Jude starts to break away and begins to see a life with a little more light in it, another tragedy sends him reeling.  It is Jude’s reaction to life’s latest curve ball that shapes the story that is told in this book

Clearly Jude is on a journey and this book is merely a snap shot of one particular leg of that trip.  His sister’s death hangs over him and traps him in a world where he tries to look normal on the outside while navigating grief and guilt on the inside.  It is a very quick read and I do wish there had been elaboration on some relationships, but despite that, the story still worked, in my opinion.  Before You Go was extremely emotional and sad, but not without hope.  Although the ending is not tied up in a neat little package, which I would have hated, it leaves you with a sense that Jude has options and is in control of how he chooses to approach life.  So much about grieving is a sense of powerlessness and if I got anything from this book it was, as trite as it may sound, that life goes on.

This book earned 3.5 birds, rounded up to 4:

I received this book as a galley from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Find James Preller online:


Kate @ Ex Libris


73 responses to “Before You Go by James Preller

  1. Wow just the overview makes my heart twinge. I had a Crush in High School who when age 4, tried to stop his baby brother from crying in the yard so they wouldn’t have to go inside, by feeding him dirt. He didn’t make it 🙁 I always knew something bothered this guy but it wasn’t until I was in my 20’s my mother told me his story. I can’t wait to read this and get some insight on what his life was like.

  2. Great review, Kate. This sounds like such a heart-breaking read, but I’m glad to know that the book doesn’t leave you feeling entirely hopeless. Life is, after all, about having options: to move forward, to remain stagnant, or to remain forever in the past. I will definitely be reading Before You Go to find out what choice Jude makes.

  3. I find it extremely interesting that this book is a snapshot from a part of Jude’s journey. It sounds like he’s going through a lot, and I’m always interested to see how characters react to such adversity.

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