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