Review Detail

5.0 1
Young Adult Fiction 2474
best of 2006
Overall rating
Writing Style
Reader reviewed by carolyn

Before I Go
by Riley Weston
Campfire Press
Reviewed by Sheryl Root

This was one of the most powerfully written books I have read in a long time. It will definitely be in my top ten for 2006. The characters are beautifully drawn and the descriptions so vivid that I was immediately transported into Madison's world. It is a world filled with competitive ice skating, her mom and coach Annie, and Jackson Wellington III. It is several love stories woven into one.

Maddie meets Jack when she is six and he is seven, facing off over a single yellow balloon. From that point on, they are inseparable friends and soul mates. Madison's days are filled with early mornings and late nights at the rink, which leaves little time for making friends. But she always has Jack.

Madison's relationship with her mom, Annie, is typical of the love/hate relationship experienced between mothers and daughters during the teen years, complicated by the fact that Annie is also her coach. When Maddie becomes exhausted, beyond what even her non-stop training explains, Annie pushes her to continue--as a coach because they are so close to their goal of the Olympics, and as a mom because she doesn't want to face what Maddie's abnormal fatigue might really mean.

Annie and Madison's relationship is written so clearly and brilliantly that, to me, it was the crux of the book. The love between Jack and Maddie is playful, tender, and bittersweet. How each person, each relationship, deals with a Madison's illness is portrayed with realism, humor, and love.

Before I Go does not have a storybook "happy" ending. While I admit I cried quite a bit during the closing chapters of the book, sadness was not the feeling I was left with. Instead, I took away hope, joy, and faith in what is to come.

Armchair Interview says: This is a highly recommended young adult book.

Reprinted here with author's permission.
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