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Before I Let Go

Review

Before I Let Go

Kyra and Corey were best friends. They were inseparable. Always had been, always would be. At least, that was until Corey was forced out of Lost Creek, Alaska, moving away from Kyra and away from her home. Kyra promises to wait for Corey and in return, Corey promises to come back to her. However, just days before Corey is set to come home, Kyra commits suicide.

Suddenly when Corey returns home, things in Lost Creek have changed. While Kyra was treated as an outsider when Corey lived in town, everyone suddenly claims they embraced her in the months before her death. Everyone treats Corey like an outsider and refuses to explain the events surrounding Kyra’s death, only claiming that it was meant to be. From Marieke Nijkamp, the author of THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS, BEFORE I LET GO follows Corey’s return to her hometown and the confusion that sets in as she tries to figure out what happened to her best friend and what secrets the town is holding from her.

"The setting fits the plot perfectly, matching the level of creepiness that Nijkamp tries to achieve....BEFORE I LET GO is a fascinating story...with an enchanting and mysterious atmosphere that is unforgettable."

When I first started this novel, I assumed I already knew what the plot would be. I figured Corey would go home, learn about her friend who died and deal with the grief or learn more about herself in the process. I assumed it would be a book among the likes of WHERE SHE WENT by Gayle Forman or PLAYLIST OF THE DEAD by Michelle Falkoff. However, I was completely mistaken. While the plot had aspects of what I expected, it was delivered as a thriller and had a much creepier tone. There were aspects of magic realism that I did not expect and thought were particularly unique.

The tone and setting of the book were what really stood out to me while reading. The entirety of the book takes place in a small, conservative town in Alaska. The setting fits the plot perfectly, matching the level of creepiness that Nijkamp tries to achieve. It added a whole dreamlike atmosphere as if there was something unclear and deep below the surface I needed to discover. Stories should not depend on a setting but a good setting supports the story, and that is clearly done in BEFORE I LET GO. The thriller tone brought chills to my bones. At some points, it felt like a movie and I was just watching a trailer instead of reading the book.

Unfortunately, my main problems were with the characters. Though many of them were unique and interesting, I had trouble connecting to any character. I couldn’t relate to any of them, making it hard to cheer them on as the book continues. That being said, the book seemed to have great representation. Corey is asexual and Kyra is bipolar and pansexual. From my outsider perspective, it seemed like great representation, but I’m not suffering from bipolar disorder and I don’t identify with either sexuality, so while I saw no issues, I’m not the reviewer to claim that it’s perfect representation.

I recommend it to anyone who enjoyed THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS. I also recommend it to anyone who likes the film Get Out. While it (obviously) did not have the social commentary like Get Out did, the atmosphere of a small town where the main character is the only one who seems out of place reminded me a lot of the first half of Get Out, when the main character is trying to figure out what’s wrong. BEFORE I LET GO is a fascinating story about home, hope, stories and finding who you are with an enchanting and mysterious atmosphere that is unforgettable. 

Reviewed by Brynn S., Teen Board Member on January 10, 2018

Before I Let Go
by Marieke Nijkamp

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Social Issues, Young Adult 13+
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
  • ISBN-10: 1492668079
  • ISBN-13: 9781492668077