Before and After You and Me

Before and After You and Me
Age Range
14+
Release Date
May 02, 2024
ISBN
978-1958109489
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Emma blames herself when a freak accident at a pool party leaves Hunter, the town’s rising track star and her former boyfriend, paralyzed from the waist down. As she struggles with anxiety, loneliness and regret, she begins to obsessively paint portraits of legs and feet—Hunter’s legs and feet—and for the first time receives critical acclaim and notice for her artwork.

But what started as therapeutic for Emma ends up deepening her guilt. Does creating meaningful art require retreating inward toward self-expression, or striving outward toward recognition—or can it somehow be both?

Searching for one whole, authentic identity, Emma grapples with love, ambition, grief, homecoming, and—ultimately—redemption.

Editor review

1 review
A Poignant Young Adult Novel
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Before and After You and Me is a poignant young adult novel that follows Emma Mason as her life is split into two parts: Before, and After.

When, not 24 hours after their breakup, Hunter, Emma's former boyfriend, is left paralyzed after an accident at a pool party, Emma blames herself. As she struggles with anxiety and self-reproach, she begins channeling her guilt into painting and, for the first time, begins to receive real recognition and praise for her artwork.

I loved that Emma felt like a real person while reading this book. She is understandably heartbroken after the accident, but the author does a wonderful job of making her feelings and actions authentic and complex. She knows that life must go on after The Accident, but she feels guilty that she will return to the ordinary while Hunter's life is left irrevocably altered. She is empathetic and kind, but she does have her faults. I appreciated that her character was multifaceted and realistic.

I enjoyed the author's writing style, particularly her descriptions of characters and settings. She describes sounds and scents, which helped me visualize what was happening, further immersing me in the story.

This book has dual timelines, and I occasionally found myself a bit confused, but the more I read, the more I found it helped to capture the bigger picture and to connect the reader with the characters.

BEFORE AND AFTER YOU AND ME had me excited to return to the pages and anxious to see how everything would be resolved. It is an impactful story with vibrant and dynamic characters. I recommend it to anyone searching for a bittersweet summer read filled with important themes of family, friendship, forgiveness, and redemption.
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