Before I Let Go

FeaturedHot
 
5.0
 
5.0 (1)
5875 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

Endgame (The Wielders of Arantha Book 3)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Go to Mount Calabur. Stand on the Nexus. Win the...
Fae's Promise (Crimes of the Fae)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Griffin O’Shea is trapped. Again....
The Lost Prince (The Nihryst Book 2)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A mythical healing flower. A fractured kingdom. A curse unbroken....
Instant Karma
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
In New York Times bestselling author Marissa Meyer's young adult...
Put Yourself in My Shoes
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
When Cricket goes for a walk, he finds Ladybug searching...
Selma
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Selma is asked: What is happiness? ...
Benjamin's Blue Feet
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
A young bird with a flair for discovery and invention...
Pocket Piggies: I Love You!
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
What’s the best thing in the world? I...
Everything Under the Sun
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sun’s Reach is in dire peril. The last...
Lizzy Albright and the Attic Window
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Lizzy Albright, a red-headed, freckle-faced girl from Overland Park, Kansas,...
Send Me Their Souls (Bring Me Their Hearts, #3)
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
There are worse things than death. ...
The Walrus and the Caribou
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
When the earth was new, words had the power to...
The Elephant's Umbrella
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Elephant is always ready and willing to share her prized...
Calvin Gets the Last Word
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The dictionary as narrator? YES! ...
Goblin King (Permafrost, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
In Kara Barbieri's Goblin King, the stunning sequel in the...
Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #3)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Morrigan battles a new evil as a strange, frightening illness...

Latest Member Reviews

Instant Karma
 
3.7
"INSTANT KARMA is an overall charming YA contemporary. Prudence is finishing tenth grade and completely fed up with her biology..."
Kingdom of the Wicked
 
4.3
"Thrills and chills abound in Kerri Maniscalco‘s new release Kingdom of the Wicked. I don’t know where to start! This..."
Send Me Their Souls (Bring Me Their Hearts, #3)
 
4.3
"SEND ME THEIR SOULS is a gut-wrenching finale to a fantastic YA fantasy series. In this third book, we begin..."
Goblin King (Permafrost, #2)
 
4.0
"GOBLIN KING is a much faster-paced and action-packed YA fantasy sequel. Janneke has taken the mantle of the stag, though..."
Swamp Thing: Twin Branches
 
4.3
"SWAMP THING: TWIN BRANCHES is a graphic novel about finding yourself, remembering history, and forging your own path forward. Alec..."
The Mirror: Broken Wish (The Mirror, #1)
 
5.0
"BROKEN WISH is a beautifully composed fairytale. The book begins with the story of Mathilda and Agnes, neighbors who have..."
The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)
 
5.0
"THE GILDED WOLVES is a fantastic YA fantasy. Although given a year in the 1800s and a historical setting, the..."
The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)
 
4.3
"That ending!!! THE SILVERED SERPENTS is an engaging YA historical fantasy that picks up after the first book ended, and..."
Among the Beasts and Briars
 
4.7
"Ashley Poston has crafted a new fairy tale for the ages! Among the Beasts and Briars may very well be..."
Warriors of Wing and Flame (Sisters of Shadow and Light, #2)
 
4.0
"WARRIORS OF WING AND FLAME is an intriguing conclusion to a YA fantasy duology about sisterhood. This book picks up..."
Sisters of Shadow and Light (Sisters of Shadow and Light, #1)
 
3.7
"SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT is an intriguing YA fantasy that focuses on the love between sisters. Zuhra has lived..."
Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA
 
5.0
"FORESHADOW is a fantastic collection of short stories with a focus on discussion and writing. Each story is undeniably well-composed..."
A Cloud of Outrageous Blue
 
4.3
"A CLOUD OF OUTRAGEOUS BLUE is a historical fiction read that takes the reader to 1348-1349. Edyth grew up with..."
Slingshot
 
4.7
"SLINGSHOT by Mercedes Helnwein is a firecracker of a debut. This YA contemporary is set inside a shoddy boarding school..."
Raybearer (Raybearer, #1)
 
5.0
"RAYBEARER is a lush and imaginative YA fantasy that had me captivated from the start. The book follows Tarisai, who..."
A Golden Fury
 
4.0
"When I started A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe, I’m not sure what I was expecting. A historical fantasy? A..."
Beyond the Ruby Veil (The Walls in the Ruby Sky, #1)
 
4.3
"BEYOND THE RUBY VEIL is a very dark YA fantasy that features a ruthless anti-heroine and a mysterious other world...."
Lightbringer (Empirium, #3)
 
5.0
"LIGHTBRINGER is a truly epic finale to the Empirium trilogy. Rielle and Eliana are mother and daughter, separated by thousands..."
Dating Makes Perfect
 
4.3
" The story: Just like her sisters before her, Winnie isn’t allowed to date in high school. With..."
A Golden Fury
 
3.3
"A GOLDEN FURY is a YA historical fantasy that entrenches the reader in the life of Thea. Thea is a..."