Before I Let Go

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

I was excited to read this book due to the beautiful haunting cover and the description. I enjoy reading novels that transport me to places I've never been. This novel is set in a remote tiny town in Alaska. The small town of Lost becomes a character in this story of best friends Kyra and Corey. There were definitely things I appreciated about the book. Ms. Nijkamp's writing is beautifully descriptive and literary, and she uses a non-linear narrative structure to tell the story. This element was interesting, but sometimes made it tricky to know where you were in the story. There were also things that troubled me about the book, such as the way adults in town treated this troubled teen while she was alive, idolized her after her death, and especially how they withheld the treatment she needed to give themselves a sense of hope. The book features a diverse cast of characters, although I would have appreciated more in-depth development of them. The adults in the town (with a couple of exceptions) all seemed identical. The town was creepy, cult-like, and reminiscent of a "Stepford Wives" community, where the "normal" person arrives and can't stop thinking, "What the heck?" I felt compelled to finish the book, but the ending seemed a bit anticlimactic to me.
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I wasn't a fan of this book. I found it t be extremely repetitive, and the issues that were brought up were dealt with in a strange manner. I found th flashbacks to fit the story, but the script elements seemed forced. The ending was very interesting, but I skimmed through much of the book to get there.
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I am not sure what to think about the book. Such a promising beginning and yet, such a disappointing ending. The big reveal never happened for me, it was just unbelievable twist and explanation. 

Two best friends grew up together, one left and soon learned about her BFF's suicide. When she comes back for the memorial, she learns that nothing is what it seems. That is the premise, it sounded so compelling to me. But somehow, I ended up confused. It's not that the writing wasn't clear, I got the point, but it just didn't make any sense to me. 

The best thing about the book is that chilling atmosphere of a mob psychology and what a group can do to a threatening individual. It almost sounds like a town cult was happening here, but yet... I am not 100% sure!
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I was intrigued by the sound of this title, particularly the Alaskan setting which had potential to be original and interesting. 

This is a largely enjoyable read- the characters are well drawn, the pace is brisk and the plot has a number of engaging little twists. On the whole though, I didn't really warm to the narrator and I felt as if there was a lot of repetition along the lines of telling us how meaningful and important a place or incident was, rather than showing us.  There were also some narrative devices that didn't wholly make sense to me- why were we suddenly reading a film script? 

At the end of a lot of build up I didn't feel like the story fully delivered. However, this book might appeal to younger teen readers who are questioning their sense of identity and place in the world. It's certainly an entertaining enough read and even if I didn't love it as much as I hoped, others may do.
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This was heartbreaking. This was beautiful. This story needed to be told. I will never forget these characters, this town, this book, this story, these emotions I felt while reading it. That's all I can process right now.
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Let me start by saying this is not anything like This Is Where It Ends.
That being said, I still loved it. 
Before I Let Go hits on so many important issues, such as sexuality, suicide, and mental illness (bipolar disorder specifically). I love that Marieke Nijkamp doesn't shy away from topics like this and instead embraces them.

So I'm sure you want to hear about the book now.
Corey got a call that no one ever want to receive, her best friend is dead. Suicide. 
Kyra struggled with bipolar disorder and was often called "freak", "outsider", and was completely misunderstood. All of Lost Creek avoided her after her diagnosis. Everyone except for Corey, because they needed each other. Corey wanted her best friend to fit it and be accepted, but also relished during Kyra's episodes because it meant she got to be normal for a few days. 
Kyra's episodes were bad. The would go AWOL for days at a time. She would enter a trance where all she could do was paint. She used art as a coping mechanism on her bad days. 
Once Corey moved out of Lost, Kyra's bad days got worse. But the town didn't know that. They believed she was telling the future through her art work. They believed that they had finally found a place for Kyra and loved what she gave them. But they didn't love her, they didn't care about her... They cared about her art and what it did to bring the town the hope they so desperately needed.
So why was Corey so hellbent on finding out what really happened?
Because Kyra needed her to know. 
Kyra needed to show her the life she built.
Kyra needed her to know she was scared.
Kyra needed to get out of Lost Creek, and she knew this was the only way to do it.

It's a dark read with an almost cult like feel to it. I enjoyed every second of it, which was actually only a few hours of reading time. If you liked her first book, you will probably enjoy this one too! 
I cannot thank NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire enough for sending me this advanced readers copy!

Mark your calendars, Before I Let Go hits shelves January 23, 2018!
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I started this book with high hopes based on cover and description, but soon found myself uninterested.
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Haunting story of a girl trying to come to terms with the death of a friend. More questions are raised than are answered and much is left for interpretation. The writing style is at times poetic and the narrator spends a lot of time sharing her thoughts and questions. There may or may not be elements of magical realism--perhaps an unreliable narrator instead? This would be a terrific book for group discussion with teens who appreciate literary pieces; not sure if it will appeal to the average teen.
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Putting my thoughts for this book into words is really hard. I read this book in about two and a half days because I wanted to know what happenes or rather happened. The story of Corey and Kyra was really heartwrenching. While reading I had to take some breaks because I felt really drained and burned out sometimes. Maybe this was because the topic was really heavy and the author had the intention to make the readers feel that way, but maybe it was because I was really frustrated at times. The town of Lost, the people of Lost irritated me so much and made me even angrier. Their behaviour was just really horrible which was the whole thing about them but it made it really hard for me to enjoy what I've read.

In the end I can't really say if I liked this book or not. I just feel confused and irritated and also really sad.
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Nijkamp's first novel, This Is Where It Ends, hooked me but ultimately left me feeling like I read someone's idea of what happens at a school shooting (i.e., it didn't make a lot of sense). Unfortunately, Before I Let Go didn't even hook me. I kept plugging away at it but it's not quite creepy enough. While I suppose you could say some parts are fantasy, other parts are totally unbelievable--does no one in this book own a cell phone?
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Before I Let Go is a story of friendship, love, and tragedy. The setting of this tiny town in Alaska provides a backdrop for a story that at times borders on magical realism, winding the beliefs of the townspeople into its tapestry. It's never quite certain whether Kyra deserved the strange devotion bestowed upon her by the people of the town. It's as if that question does not really matter.

What does matter throughout the novel is Kyra's need to be loved for who she is. She does not want to be loved despite it, nor does she want to be feared because of it. No one around her fully understands what her bipolar disorder means for them. They find it unpredictable and frightening. Because of their fear and ignorance, the people of the town only think of themselves. They never ask themselves what Kyra's mental health might mean for her.

Marieke Nijcamp highlights an issue that is burgeoning into a discussion in modern America. So often, people who struggle with these types of disorders are portrayed in media as frightening, chaotic, challenging, or savants. Kyra's story straddles all of these personas, and yet they never fit, suit, or help her. She wears them like uncomfortable clothing because she is trapped and isolated in her tiny, petri dish of a world.

In this beautifully told story, Nijcamp demands that the reader examine the responses and determine how someone might get it right--for the sake of friendship, love, and avoiding tragedy.
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It will be very difficult to write a spoiler-free review of this book, but I will in due time. For now, suffice it to say that I liked this MUCH better than 'this is where it ends', though I can't say I cared that much more about the characters. It was a page turner and I polished it off in one sitting (about 4 hours). This YA is worth the read, and I have a feeling much younger readers (who get less wrapped up in a need for in-depth characterization) will really enjoy it.

I absolutely LOVED the experimental structure and the diverse cast of characters.

RIYL: We Were Liars, Dangerous Girls, All the Bright Places
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Ok but not something I'd rave about. I spent ages trying to think about what to write for this review and I'm still a bit stuck. It was just average. Mildly interesting characters and story. Found the bits of play script a bit odd!
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I found this book strange, and depressing and unrealistic.
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I was hooked from the excerpt in the Buzz books for Fall/Winter!  This was a compelling story, I couldn't put it down.
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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!
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After reading and loving This is Where It Ends last year, it's not unfair of me to say that I had incredibly high expectations for Marieke's next book. Thus, when I saw an ARC appearing on my dashboard, I couldn't mash that button hard or fast enough. 

My excitement at getting it is nearly paired with my disappointment while reading it. There was just too much wrong with it. I did read it all the way to the end to see if there was any saving it with the resolution and, I'm sad to say, there wasn't. Not in my opinion.

Before I Let Go is a story about a town that abuses a girl who suffers bipolar disorder to the point where she commits suicide to escape them. Up till that point, they do such things as withhold her medication and her support network, including her psychiatrist, so that they can use her mechanism she uses to cope with mania--painting--to predict the future and draw the rest of the town--not her--together. And they never, ever pay for it. 

It is about a town who gaslights Kyra's best friend when she comes back to Lost for the funeral, telling her that she doesn't understand, that it's not like that. When Corey doesn't allow them to mess around with the truth of what happened, she too gets abused and on at least two occasions they try to kill her.

It's so hard to even understand the motivations by the end. You see Kyra's father, who is meant to see Corey like a second daughter, attempting to kill her by the end because she took some letters by Kyra that were addressed to Corey...

I've got nothing bad to say about the asexual or pansexual rep of the novel. There's nothing bad to say about it. 

I don't know how to finish this review. Unquestioningly, the quality of writing and sentence structure was good. There were no technical aspects that made it hard reading. But the content meant it was a really hard read to get through, and I'm not sure there was any pay off.
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Suspense meets mental illness in this story about Corey who returns home to Lost, Alaska for the funeral of her best friend Kyra. Was Kyra's death really an accident, murder or a suicide? Corey is determined to find out.
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I wanted to love this book, because I really loved Marieke Nijkamp's first novel. Before I Let Go, however, had too many odd elements to hold my interest. Although it was part mystery as Corey tries to uncover what really happened to her best friend to cause her death, the book just moved way too slowly. I didn't care about the characters, and the plot didn't feel resolved at the end.
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