Before I Let Go

FeaturedHot
 
5.0
 
5.0 (1)
5617 0
Before I Let Go
Age Range
14+
Release Date
January 23, 2018
ISBN
9781492642282
Buy This Book
      

Days before Corey is to return home to the snow and ice of Lost Creek, Alaska, to visit her best friend, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated—and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town's lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she's a stranger. Corey knows something is wrong. Lost is keeping secrets—chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter...

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Deeply layered, moving, and at times terrifying
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
WHAT I LOVED:
Once upon a time, as this storytelling-focused story might begin a tale, Corey and Kyra were best friends in the microscopic Lost Creek. Then Corey’s family moved to Canada and Corey went away to boarding school. Seven months later, Kyra died when the ice broke on a frozen lake and she fell in. In those seven months, Lost went from considering Kyra a bipolar “danger” to the revered hometown golden girl. Corey doesn’t trust a bit of what she’s hearing, but Lost no longer trusts her. Seven months away is enough time for Corey to become an outsider–and Lost doesn’t take kindly to outsiders. Contemporary, horror, suspense, mystery, something unexplainable–the span of genres in Before I Let Go lends it a multifaceted quality. Though busy at times, it works well and keeps you reading.

If you were worried this would be just another Dead Girl book–one in which the main character’s personal journey is centered entirely on an unknowable dead girl–you will be pleased to know it’s not. Though Lost is obsessed with controlling Kyra’s narrative and Corey tells us of the Kyra she knew, the dearly departed still tells her own story through her letters to Corey and a diary she hid from Lost. Like I said, storytelling-focused story. If you were a fan of Hamilton‘s storytelling theme, Before I Let Go will be your new best friend.

Nijkamp’s chosen setting of tiny Lost Creek, Alaska is brilliantly written and appropriately claustrophobic. It more than fulfills the two needs for such a setting: a sparse town with only a handful of places to be and a small population of recognizable, individual people. My mom grew up in a town like Lost Creek and regularly tells stories about it. The way Corey talks about lost is almost identical to the way Mom talks about her hometown when we visit and she points out all three notable places.

The people of Lost are what gives the novel its tinge of horror and suspense too! They–especially Kyra’s parents–are so determined to protect Kyra’s “legacy” that they unite into a single terrifying entity when Corey opposes them. For God’s sake, they just stood there and watched when the cabin Corey was staying in caught fire and she had to escape through a window. A town and population like this could come right out of a Stephen King novel.

The legacy Lost wants so desperately to protect? Kyra’s painted prophecies. The return of mining work to town via a new investor, specific people and places Corey visits throughout, her own manner of death,… She predicted these and more in her art. It’s not paranormal or magical realism, simply the unexplainable. Among other unexplainable things: WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH AARON’S CABIN?

But the strongest idea at the core of Before I Let Go are deconstructions of “suffering for your art” and the misconceptions surrounding mentally ill creatives. Kyra painted to cope with her bipolar disorder, not to indulge any passion for art. Once Lost discovered her painted prophecies, they came to depend on her only for her art and isolated her in a abandoned spa. Since she only painted during her manic episodes and her medication helped control her moods, they withheld her meds. If the painted visions required she suffered for her art, then so be it. They’d make sure she suffered. She’d already foretold her own death, after all.

Think about some of the mentally ill creatives throughout history, like Sylvia Plath and Ernest Hemingway. Both wrote works of literary genius and both committed suicide when they were relatively young. Had they gotten effective treatment, they may have lived much longer and produced much more work. But would it have been as well-received as the work they made with poor treatment or none at all?

Like the people of Lost, we simply accept the relationship between their work and lack of treatment without much thought. We don’t wonder whether they created due to passion or simply to cope, or how they felt about what they created. A mentally ill creative might make something they dislike or nothing at all with poor/no treatment and only make something they truly love/are passionate about when getting good treatment–or nothing at all if they’re like Kyra and only create to cope. No art is ever worth the suffering of the artist. Them getting treatment is more important than any art they make without it.

Because Lost never thought about any of the above, Kyra died. How many lives have prematurely ended because we didn’t think about any of this either?

WHAT LEFT ME WANTING:
Absolutely nothing.

FINAL VERDICT:
Nijkamp’s debut This Is Where It Ends has set a high standard by spending over a year on the New York Times bestseller list, but Before I Let Go has it beat. It’s a deeply layered, moving, and at times terrifying novel I’d teach to high school students if I could stomach teaching. It’s not emotionally easy to read, but you’d be missing brilliance if you skipped out on this visceral reading experience.
Good Points
*excellent sense of setting
*compelling characters
*unexpected but welcomed horror elements
*like Hamilton, in a way: "who lives, who dies, who tells your story"
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 1 0

User reviews

1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0  (1)
Characters 
 
5.0  (1)
Writing Style 
 
5.0  (1)
Already have an account? or Create an account
Before I Let Go
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
A must read that will be enjoyed by all teens and recommended reading for adults too!
Good Points
Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing an advance copy of Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp. I love mysteries and psychological thrillers; Nijkamp did not disappoint with this taut, compelling YA novel of two best friends living in a very small, creepy Alaskan town, Lost, that is not inviting to newcomers and shuns those who leave. After growing up in Lost, Corey moves to Fairbanks, a new school and life, when her mom accepts a better job but both Kyra and Corey promise to wait for each other. With Kyra’s unexpected death, Corey rushes back to Lost and through flashbacks, diary entries, letters, phone calls, and emails we see their close, enduring friendship and the town’s suffocating secrets and lies. Kyra’s storytelling and painting give the reader a rich history of Lost. The crippling grief and loss Corey feels over Kyra’s death is compounded by the town’s new worship of Kyra’s foretelling of the future in her paintings. But Lost never accepted Kyra with her bipolar diagnosis before, so what happened over the 7 months Corey was enjoying her new life in Fairbanks? Teens will not be able to put down this riveting mystery as Corey unceasingly searches for the truth from the town that now views her as a traitor. There were really no likable characters in this mesmerizing mystery but Corey’s steadfast quest for truth (she is guilty also) holds the reader captive from the first page to the last page, highly recommended!
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Movies, mansions, and murder in the Golden Age of Hollywood!...
Kamala and Maya's Big Idea
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Meena Harris debuts with an empowering picture book about two...
Harvey Holds His Own (The Harvey Stories, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The West Highland Terrier that brought Harvey Comes Home to...
Everything I Thought I Knew
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
A teenage girl wonders if she’s inherited more than just...
The Morning Flower (The Omte Origins, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking returns to...
The Hunt
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Death marked her from her very first breath. Being...
Swallowed by a Secret
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
One dead father. One lying mother. ...
Circus of the Dead Book One
 
5.0 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
There are many ways to die at the Circus...
Roaring
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Colt Clemmons is an agent in a specialized division...
Court of Lions
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Court of Lions is the long-awaited second and final...
More Than Just a Pretty Face
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Becky Albertalli and Jenny Han, a...
The Adventurers Guild: Night of Dangers
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
After the events at Llethanyl, city of the elves, Zed...
And Then I Turned into a Mermaid (And Then I Turned into a Mermaid, #1)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Emily Windsnap and Maybe A Mermaid, And...
After the Worst Thing Happens
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Left reeling after her thoughtless mistake causes a terrible accident,...
Hirana's War: Book Two in the Eloia Born Series
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Praise for Eloia Born “Loved it! A well-written narrative...
Hans Christian Andersen: The Journey of His Life
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
"If you like, I’ll tell you the story of a...

Latest Member Reviews

 
4.0
"WHAT I LOVED: We think of the glitz, glamorous mega-stars, and classic movies when we think of the Golden Age..."
The Night Country (The Hazel Wood #2)
 
4.0
"Alice Proserpine thought she was mostly back to “normal” life after breaking from her story in the Hinterland, but when..."
Everything I Thought I Knew
 
4.3
"What worked: Intriguing plot of Chloe, a seventeen-year-old super-achiever, who ends up collapsing during her senior year in high school..."
The Adventurers Guild: Night of Dangers
 
5.0
"THE ADVENTURERS GUILD: NIGHT OF DANGERS by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos is the culmination of a Middle Grade..."
The Pros of Cons
 
4.0
"WHAT I LOVED: I genuinely can't imagine four different events happening simultaneously in the same complex, but it happens..."
BRB I'm Going to Disneyland
 
4.0
"'BRB: I'm Going to Disneyland' by Courtney Carbone is a cute, quick read. As a novel written in texts, emails,..."
He Must Like You
 
5.0
"'He Must Like You' by Danielle Younge-Ullman is an intensely provocative look at the various ways in which consent, upset,..."
How the Stars Came to Be
 
5.0
"Reviewed for YA Books Central Beautiful in every aspect. The book: This is a story about how the..."
Unscripted
 
5.0
"A book so real it can be u comfortable at times. The story: Zelda doesn’t have a..."
The Dark Tide
 
5.0
"THE DARK TIDE is an enthralling and atmospheric YA fantasy read. We follow Lina, a townsperson, and Eva, the witch..."
Where Dreams Descend
 
4.0
"What worked: Beautifully written tale where a girl performer breaks away from her cage and enters a competition of magicians..."
The Black Kids
 
5.0
"THE BLACK KIDS is a really poignant read that ties history to the present. Ashley is a senior in high..."
What Goes Up
 
3.3
"'What Goes Up' by Christine Heppermann is a quick read, as it is a novel-in-verse, a format that can be..."
They Wish They Were Us
 
4.3
"THEY WISH THEY WERE US is an engaging YA thriller reminiscent of GOSSIP GIRLS. The book follows Jill, who had..."
Roaring
 
3.0
"ROARING takes place in the 1920s- with a twist. Monsters, sirens, minotaurs, basilisks, and more, exist, and they are woven..."
More Than Just a Pretty Face
 
5.0
"MORE THAN JUST A PRETTY FACE is a fantastic YA contemporary romance that follows Danyal during his senior year of..."
You Say It First
 
3.3
"'You Say It First' is easily one of those books you will either love or hate. My feelings fell somewhere..."
Court of Lions (Mirage, #2)
 
5.0
"COURT OF LIONS finishes the MIRAGE duology with aplomb. This YA fantasy series takes us to another planet and the..."
The Unleashed: The Haunted, Book 2
 
4.0
"Creepy, suspenseful paranormal where some friends learn that a summoning might bring back something unexpected and evil. ..."
The Year of the Witching
 
5.0
"Immanuelle lives in the town of Bethel where the Prophet's word is law and the highest honor for a woman..."