Before We Go by Amy Bright: A Review

Before We Go by Amy Bright

From Red Deer Press: Visiting her dying grandmother in hospital is not what 17 year-old Emily wants to be doing for New Year’s Eve, but it’s not like she has anything else to do. Leaving the hospital, she meets a teen-aged boy named Alex, who is also leaving. When he invites her to go for a burger with him and his sister, she goes along. What Emily doesn’t know is that Alex, too, is dying, their meeting is not a coincidence, and she is in for a New Year’s Eve unlike any other.

Before We Go is the moving story of three kids propelled toward a surprising future by family secrets that have spanned generations.

Emily has spent most of her seventeen years living with her grandparents, while her mother chases her journalism career anywhere else but at home. Soon it became just Emily and her grandmother with her mother flying in for the odd visit. But when her grandmother is put permanently into the hospital, Emily’s days become a routine of school, hospital, sleep, school, hospital, sleep… Until a seemingly chance encounter with a boy in an elevator changes that. Told in the span of one New Year’s Eve night, Before We Go by Amy Bright (Red Deer Press) follows Emily, Alex, and his sister Lucy as they deal with the bittersweet trials of friendship and family.

For reasons beyond my knowledge, I was in a bit of a reading slump in January. I just couldn’t work up the desire to read (which believe me is rare for me). Before We Go cured me of my lethargy. I flew through this book. It is a quick read with believable characters that are easy to associate with. The characters are the strength of the story that evoked strong emotions from this reader. Emily, Lucy and Alex’s lives are all facing expiry dates in different ways. Emily’s grandmother is dying and soon Emily will be alone. Alex is dying from cancer and Lucy will soon lose her sibling. As the story progresses, you just need to know that these characters are going to be okay.

I really disliked Emily’s mother, a character we never actually meet except in Emily’s memories. Her daughter is having to deal with the loss of her grandmother and the only real care-giver her daughter has, because she can’t suck it up and be there for her daughter. URGH! Her absence makes Emily’s loneliness all the more pitiable. I just wanted to give Emily a hug.

What I appreciated most about this book was that it is refreshingly free of a romantic focus. This isn’t a young adult novel where the heroine is dealing with the heartache of romantic love; it is a story about the heartache of family love.

Given the heavy subject issues of death and loneliness, I felt this novel could have been pushed a bit further, emotions driven a bit deeper. And the ending felt incomplete. I wanted some kind of resolution, especially since New Year’s is all about resolutions.

Sad, yet hopeful, Before We Go will leave you wanting to hold those dear to you just a little bit closer, hug them just a little bit longer.

♥ ♥ ♥ (3/5 hearts)

Find out more about Before We Go and its author, in this interview with Amy Bright.

Win a copy of Before We Go by clicking here.

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