Before I Let Go

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

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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I received an ARC of Before I Let Go from NetGalley. 

I’ve only recently completed this book, so perhaps I should’ve waited a day or two before writing a review. However, I don’t want to sit with this story for even one more day—for fear I’ll forget it completely. 

First off, I’ve read this author’s other book This Is Where It Ends, as well. As was also the case with this book, I recall being captivated by that story as well. I wasn’t in love with its characters—mostly because most of them were either forgettable or annoying—but I did find the story compelling. 

That said, I also remember being very put-off by Nijkamp’s need to emotionally manipulate the reader. 

Such manipulation is no less present in Before I Let Go. The only difference being, I couldn’t hate a main character more than I did Corey. 

The basic gist of the story is this: Corey is forced home (to Lost, Alaska) by the death of her best friend, Kyra. Corey, finding it hard to believe her friend would take her own life, decides to investigate the circumstances once she arrives. However, upon doing so, she finds the people of Lost are less than eager to allow an “outsider” to rewrite the “legacy” they’ve so craftily created for Kyra. 

What follows is a story that teeters somewhere between the supernatural and sheer coincidence—the reader is never truly sure which—as Corey unearths the town’s hidden secrets.

While I loved the use of Alaska’s haunting beauty as the backdrop to this story, Corey’s incessant need to understand and be given the truth got old in a hurry. 

It’s like, hello, if you’d been a better friend, perhaps you wouldn’t need answers from all of these weird ass people!.

I just ...*sigh*. 

I wanted Corey to either accept the loss of her best friend, and work through that, or understand the danger of getting to the bottom of whatever truth she was looking to find. I mean, seriously, some of the crap Corey gets into is just so far-fetched ...there’s no way any rational person is that stupid. 

I know, anything is possible with a YA character, but come on! The number of times Corey puts herself in a situation that is obviously dangerous is beyond acceptable. 

There were far too many moments when I felt like I was reading an episode of The Twilight Zone. Albeit, a really campy, and bad one, with no message or point whatsoever.

Even more annoying? The fact that no one truly respected the memory of Kyra; the only worthwhile, fleshed-out, character in the book. 

Kyra’s voice, even from her watery grave, had more backbone and life than any of the seriously detestable people in her town. 

If nothing else, her Bipolar Disorder was treated with respect and dignity by Nijkamp. That much I could appreciate.

This story could have easily been shorter. There was nothing life-affirming to be learned that couldn’t have been relayed in less time, especially since the ending leaves such a bad taste in your mouth.

Even so, I did enjoy Nijkamp’s writing style. She does have a way of grabbing the attention of the reader, and keeping them sucked into the story ...no matter how completely uninteresting (and depthless) its characters.

That said, great prose does not a great story make. 

This one fell short for me because I could never connect with the main character (Corey) and, by the time the story concluded, I was left wondering if she’d served any purpose at all.
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This is the heartbreaking story of Corey and Kyra, best friends as long as they could remember, and mental illness. Kyra is bipolar with high highs, and low lows that eventually lead her to take her own life mere days before Corey was to return and visit. It’s also the story of what led up to the fateful day that Kyra was found floating beneath the ice in her small Alaskan village.

The community of Lost, Alaska was where both girls had been born and raised until Corey’s mother moves with her children to Winnipeg. It was where Corey, even after the move continued to call home, until the people start pushing her away when she starts to ask questions about what happened to Kyra. The only answer Corey seems to get is that it was meant to be, and that just isn’t good enough! 

This is one of those creepy storyline YA books, about a creepy little town and dealing with both creepy issues and the heartbreaking loss of a friend to something like mental illness, and the lengths that some people will go to protect themselves and their interests no matter what the cost.

Thank you NetGalley, the publisher and the author for my ARC for a fair and honest review.
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When I started this book I thought it was so good! The writing was wonderful, the bond between the two girls was strong, the Alaskan setting was beautiful. I put this down just after the halfway point because I needed sleep. I couldn't understand how this book was getting such low ratings. When I  picked it back up in the morning, I couldn't stand it anymore. It was SO repetitious. Corey is staying in Lost for just under a week and it's the same actions and conversations over and over and over. No characters had any real depth except for Corey and Kyra. And then when I found out what actually happened, ugh. It was absolutely absurd!
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This book was incredible. It was mysterious and attention grabbing and I couldn't stop reading until the end. One I'd recommend to everyone! Thank you netgalley for an arc for an honest review.
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I'm not sure where I stand on this book. It's a mystery, that's for sure. And it did keep me guessing, but almost more in a what the heck is going on kind of a way instead of a who done it. It was well written and had a good flow. The way it went from the present, to the past, to notes from the girls gave the story something special. I don't think it would have been as interesting without that. I read the author's other book "This Is The End" so I was kind of expecting something more like that. This book surprised me though, with how different it was. Overall I think I could get teens who are looking for a mystery to read it.
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Before I Let Go was a strange read. It didn't grip me at first, and I only picked it up again because I had loved Marieke Nijkamp's first book. The second time I tried the book, I finished it in one sitting. Partly because I needed to know what had happened to the characters, and partly because I wanted the experience to be over. I think there could have been a good story here, with insightful thoughts about mental health and about friendship, but the plot was so muddled with different genres and formats that all of the good content got lost. The book contained various different types of writing, from phone calls and excerpts from letters which are typical of this type of flashback-oriented book, to sections which were written like a play, with the reader looking on at the same narrative but from a different, more removed angle. Every time the format of the book changed, the immersive experience of reading was lost. I think the idea could have been very clever, but was not put into practice very effectively. 

Having raced to the end of the book to finally get some sort of resolution and answers to the big mystery of the main characters, I was faced with more mystery and more questions. Throughout the book there is a question of magic, and imagination vs. reality. The ending of the book did not solve any of these conundrums, and instead of leaving me intrigued it's just left me annoyed. The book really was not good enough to deserve any more of my attention. I wish this book could have been better. There is potential here for an accurate depiction of mental health, family, and friendship, and instead there is a jumbled mess of different genres, poor writing style, confusing plot, and unsatisfactory pacing.
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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?

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.
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I found the book to be thrilling and a page turning read. However I would find it hard to classifying this book into a specific genre area for my library. Of course this is no fault to the book it's self but it makes myself more questioning of ordering the book the.
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