Cover Image: Before I Let Go

Before I Let Go

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When Corey moved away from her home town of snow covered Lost Creek, Alaska she promised her best friend, Kyra, that she would always stay in touch and always be there for her. As with most teens though Corey’s new life and new friends she made after her move kept her busy so she wasn’t the best with keeping in touch with Kyra. Corey did have plans for returning to Lost Creek very soon though and finally seeing Kyra again.

Unfortunately Corey receives a phone call that Kyra has passed away, she was found under the ice in the lake that should have been frozen solid this time of year. Some think that Kyra purposely went looking for a weak spot in the ice and a way to end her own life after battling mental illness for years. Corey knows she needs to return to Lost Creek and get some answers on just what happened to her best friend.

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp is a young adult mystery read. After finishing this book I’m beginning to think that perhaps Marieke Nijkamp is just not an author for me. Last year I read This Is Where It Ends and while the idea behind the story was one that I was really taken in with the execution of the book left a lot to be desired for me and unfortunately now I can say the same with Before I Let Go.

I think really my biggest issue with this book came with the character development which was pretty non-existent. Corey is really the only character that felt developed and I find myself hard pressed to say even that as all that is repeated is she and Kyra had been close so now instead of owning up to her own mistakes she is determined to find who is at fault for Kyra’s death which should be touching and emotional but instead I just disliked Corey and found myself not caring if other’s were at fault or not.

Now as far as the mystery is concerned in this one it is buried within the repetitive nature of Corey blaming the town and eventually does come to light. It’s one that I might have been really taken with as there was a creepy and disturbing vibe but if I blinked while reading I would have missed it as that part of the story wasn’t developed very well in my opinion. So as sad as I am to say this one just wasn’t for me and as much as the ideas behind Ms. Nijkamp’s stories appeal to me I think this may be my last attempt.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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Honestly...I just couldn't get into this book. It's extremely well written, but started slowly enough that I just couldn't get emotionally involved. HOWEVER. As I said, it IS well written, and will still suit many readers. I just wasn't the right one for this book.
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Before I Let Go is a suspenseful thriller about a young woman whose death is mysteriously hidden from her best friend.  When Corey returns home to Alaska she finds that her best friend, Kyra, dead.  It appears that she has committed suicide, with the entire town trying to stop Corey from finding out the truth.  Young adults will enjoy this thriller about friendship, mental illness, and fighting to what you know is right.
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Interesting look into grief and memories of place versus the stories we choose to tell ourselves and others.
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I've heard so much praise for Marieke Nijkamp and her book This Is Where It Ends, although I haven't read it. I might in the future, but as a Virginia Tech graduate, stories of school shootings just sit wrongly with me. Before I Let Go however, was my opportunity to discover what this author was all about, through a safer (to me) story line. This story does chronicle depression and suicide, so I wanted to note this in case this is not a safe story line for some.

Before I Let Go follows Corey, a former Alaska native who has moved to Canada for school. As she prepares to return to her former home to visit her best friend Kyra, she receives the startling news that Kyra has committed suicide. Heartbroken and confused, Corey decides to keep her plans intact, returning to Lost Creek to try to get answers about Kyra's mysterious death and attend her memorial. But upon arriving, Corey discovers that things are not quite right. She doesn't know her town anymore, or the people in it. And worst of all, she doesn't understand why they suddenly idolized Kyra, a previous outcast due to her mental illness and outbursts. 

When Corey starts asking questions, the townspeople turn on her, claiming that she doesn't understand and that she abandoned Kyra in her time of need. As Corey pieces together what happened, she comes to realize that Kyra became a tool for the townspeople as they forced her to prophesize the future through her depressive painting episodes. Kyra fell more and more into herself as they exploited her illness, ultimately giving in to her depression and trying to escape, but the people of Lost Creek would not let her. Corey tries to bring the truth to light, but the townspeople make an attempt on her life and try to chase her away. All that Corey has left of Kyra are some possessions she left hidden for Corey to find. 

This book was a mental rollercoaster, that's for sure. Told through letters, first person POV, and even script format, the emotion is raw and real. The plot itself was  a little empty, but I think that was the point. It wanted to hone in on feelings versus actions.  I will say the different formats of writing were confusing and difficult to piece together. I think it was also a little too drawn out, this took me a lot longer to read than I was expecting, and although that is common for heavy books, it was not THAT heavy that I needed over 10 days to read it.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Thanks to SOURCEBOOKS Fire for access to an advanced digital copy of this book!
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Just two weeks before Corey is due to go back to her tiny, remote hometown to visit her best friend Kyra, she receives the devastating news that Kyra is dead. Corey immediately flies home to see Kyra's family and attend the funeral, but finds she is now treated like an outsider. Corey cannot accept that Kyra's death was a suicide, and the more she looks into the last several months of Kyra's life, the more sinister things seem. Will Corey find the truth, or will the town of Lost hold on to it's secrets forever?

First let me first say it is difficult to give this book a fair rating and review because it is definitely not my cup of tea. I guess I would classify it as magical realism crossed with psychological thriller; it is very dark and creepy, with strong sinister overtones and a touch of paranormal. It does draw the reader in, even as much as I knew it was not my kind of book, I wanted to know what really happened to Kyra, and whether Corey made it out of Lost alive. Overall, the writing was ok and, the characters of Corey and Kyra were pretty well-developed and it was well-paced. But something was just really off, or maybe it was just too weird for me. Another thing that seemed odd is that while most of the book is told in a first-person narrative by Corey, there are a few passages that are written like a script, which made it very disjointed and confusing. 

I would not recommend this book to someone who likes lighter reads, realistic fiction, or lots of action. However, I would suggest it for those who like magical realism, psychological thrillers, and stories that are dark and disturbing.

Marieke Nijkamp is also the author of This Is Where It Ends
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free digital ARC of this book.  This book is true to its title description.  The reader won't be disappointed when reading this book.
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This book was chilling, and not just because it took place during an Alaskan winter, there was just a piece of every page that didn't sit right with you while you were reading it and that was very intriguing. I enjoyed reading this book, through small glimpses into the past, fragments of letters, and what was going on in the present. It spoke many haunting truths about how people perceive mental illness and how what people believe is not always what is best. I feel like I was missing the core of who Corey was though, we read about her relationship with Kyra, but besides that I felt like I didn't know as much about her as I would have liked. Despite that I enjoyed reading this book and the unsettling feelings it gave me.
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This kept me on the edge of my seat throughout its entirety. 
The story touched on topics all people struggle with on an internal level at one point or another, though most will never admit it and some even get angry if you push the issue.
This story makes that exploration lovely and touching by looking back fondly on her friend who had recently passed away.
I will not spoil anything about this book. 
There's nothing better than a well written mystery. Particularly in context of a young adult novel. I have been searching for books like this and they are hard to find. 
This is a gem. Well written and wonderfully weird. The MC is as odd as the story and both equally fascinating.
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It is not often that you come across a book like this, a book that delivers a powerful emotional punch.  I still feel battered and in turmoil after finishing it.  It has impressed me so much; I ordered a printed copy for my bookshelf.
It is a pleasure to read a book that makes you think about things:  about how people act as individuals and as a mob, about mental illness and the way people see a person with depression, about being so involved with your own life you forget that your friend is suffering, about how far people will go to keep up the illusion and justify their actions.
But more than that Marieke Nijkamp manages to weave a tale so bizarre and unbelievable that it just sounds true.  It made my mind wander into Stephen King territory, but not quite.  Yet, it was terrifying in the way the community acted as a single mindless unit.  How they justified their behavior.  Frightening how fast Cor went from being an insider to an outsider, looked at with suspicion. 
I wished that Cor would have been able to get out with the letters and writings of Kyra.  I wished that she would have told Kyra’s story.
This book is for YA readers.  But truly it is recommended for everybody who loves a book that makes you think, a book that leaves you slightly reeling after reading the last words.  In other words: Highly recommended.  Marieke Nijkamp is an author to watch.  
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.
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I found this book so hard to read. The people of this town were so awful to this poor girl who had bipolarism. All she wanted to do was find a medication that made her feel better. Instead This Town kidnapped her held her hostage and forced her to paint until she drove herself insane and killed herself. And then the town celebrated heard death by keeping the paintings she never wanted to paint everywhere. The only one who seemed to actually care about her was the main character. While reading this I thought of Van Gogh. Van Gogh was mentally ill much like the girl and this book. He painted what he liked and the rest of the town did not like his paintings and we're scared of his illness much like the town of Lost. The town finally drove him to the point of suicide just like Kyra. I understand there is a stigma that an artist can only be good if they are mentally ill. I'm not sure what the message of the story is so perhaps I missed the higher meaning of it. Honestly I would not recommend this title.
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I enjoyed this one.  It was a very fast read and had me hooked early on.  This author seems to be able to write in a way that grabs the reader and pulls them in until the end.  The plot was a little strange (and I don't want to visit Lost Creek any time soon), but it was still believable.  The chapters were very short and the book moved along quickly.  I enjoyed Marieke's first book and look forward to her next one.
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What an intriguing tale with an unique sequence.  I was glued to this book and had to find out Kyra's story.!!  Loved the Alaska setting.  Mental health needs more attention and this book can do that.
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I recieved a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. Corey goes back home to where she once lived after her friend Kyra has drowned. The atmosphere in this book was really spooky and I loved the winter feel. All of the townspeople seemed like monsters in this book and I didn't enjoy the way Kyra's mental illness was portrayed. I truly enjoyed the writing style of this book and will definitely read more by this author, I just don't feel that this was the tale for me but others may enjoy it.
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Following up to a highly successful debut novel can be rough. John Green even does a YouTube video about his fear that he'll never be able to follow up to The Fault in Our Stars. Therefore, when I was approved to read the ARC of Before I Let Go, I was willing to give some concessions to Marieke Nijkamp. I didn't really need to because the book is good. It has a creepy vibe from the second Corey arrives back into Lost Creek. I really enjoyed the creepy factor and wish that the author had capitalized on that more. Perhaps that is why portions of the book felt lackluster: I wanted more creepy and it just wasn't the case. But that was MY fault, not the author's. Another thing that I felt could have been better was delving into the mental illness aspect of Kyra. We get lots of hints and tiny stories, but again I was hoping for more. I don't know if what was included was quite enough to jolt my sympathy into place.

I thought the author did a great job of building up the plot. The slow pace is a reminder of how life feels after the death of a loved one, how numb you are, how mechanical your days become. Hints were dropped throughout the novel so, yes, you can guess the ending. I think you were supposed to be able to guess early on so you could frame the rest of what happened to Kyra in that context.

Nijkamp is also very readable. It's one of her strongest qualities that is consistent from book to book. Characters are relatable too. Even though they are quite different from me, I was able to feel like I could have passed them on the street of my own small town.

Something that I really did NOT like in the ebook edition but was happier with in the print edition was the script style chapters dropped into the narrative. I think script form doesn't translate well to digital text. So, if this was off-putting to you, don't let it stop you from picking up the book in print instead.

This book is completely different from Nijkamp's first. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!
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"Death is a thief. It slips into our lives and steals what we care about most. It breaks us, and even when we piece ourselves together again, the pain remains."


I feel this is going to be a tough review to write, but I still wanted to talk about this book more since it was one of my most anticipated books of next year. If you've been following me for a while, you may or may not know that I'm a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers, and this premise totally caught my attention when I first read it, because it seemed like a perfect read for winter, with the setting and everything. So I have to thank the publisher for giving me an ARC of this book, because I was beyond excited to pick it up after that.

Unfortunately for me, I didn't really enjoy the novel as much as I thought I would. I didn't particulary like the plot development or the characters, and once I started reading the story, there wasn't much of a mystery to me, despite being labeled as one. 


"Stories remind me of heros and possibilities. Stories remind me that I'm not the only one to deal with this. Stories make me feel less alone."


I think my main problem was regarding the pacing of the story and the whole plot. It wasn't a long book by any means, and I felt I was reading the same thing over and over again. Yes, it started as a kind of a mystery, with our main character's best friend's death, but nothing was really happening, and all that was going on was quite repetitive, and I couldn't grasp anything important that added content to the story.

The main focus of the book was Kyra, and you could really tell that. Everything was about her, and I think I didn't connect with the protagonist or other characters because that very reason. All Corey could think about in the book was Kyra, and she only talked about her throughout the entire book. And I feel we only knew the same things because they didn't discuss anything more, and if they did it wasn't until the second half or the end of the book 'til they did, which again made the novel quite repetitive and slow. 

I think the character I liked the most was Kyra, and I'm still not sure if it was because we knew that much about her because of Corey or because something else, but she was the most interesting one in the story. However, I didn't like how the author portrayed her mental illness, and I definitely hated some things that happened in the story regarding that. 


"They'd come for new opportunity, but they found that winter is not malleable, and frost settles too. And no matter how hard they tried, they could not escape being lost."


The story also has flashbacks, and you know I usually love them but in this story they were a bit confusing, in my opinion. Sometimes I didn't know if what I was reading had already happened or not, and some of the things didn't add that much to the story. 

And oh, that ending. I want to keep this review spoiler free since this book hasn't come out yet, but ugh, I'm still pissed by those lasts scenes. I found everything quite predictable, because this story wasn't really a mystery to me, and I feel the author foreshadowed everything since the beginning, but I'm still salty with a scene regarding our main character's life that happened in the very end of the story. And I didn't like how it was solved. 

So yeah, overall even though the premise sounded amazing and I had high hopes, it ended up disappointing me, because there really wasn't a mystery and the whole story was a bit plain.

I recieved an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t change my opinion whatsoever. All thoughts are my own.
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Teenage drama with a twist.  Liked the characters, had a little trouble with the psychological aspects.
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Ugh. I should have given more credit to the other reviewers on both Netgalley and Goodreads.  
What I liked:  the setting.  I loved the idea of a YA book set in a remote, almost magically Alaska town/village.  
What I didn't like:  All the rest of it.  The author attempted many things in this book - same sex relationships,  a bizarre, twilight zone type town, an oracle, a mysterious death, mental illness...so, so many things.  The first few pages had me hoping this was going to be real page turner, but it slowly turned into me forcing myself to finish it.  I think the author tried to tackle too many things and the story just fizzles out.
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Thanks to the author and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book really didn't live up to my expectations. It really was a mediocre book with a predictable ending. I expected a fast moving thriller what I got was a so-so story about friendship and mental illness. Not enough information was given about bipolar disorder and the reader was expected to know about the effects of this. The book dealt with small town communities and issues faced but this was a bit unbelievable to be fair. Would a previous resident really be made to feel unwelcome especially if they felt they had something to hide.

All in all I wasn't impressed and this isn't a memorable book for me.
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This book brought up multiple emotions all at the same time. And a WTF feeling in the end!
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