Cover Image: Before I Let Go

Before I Let Go

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Member Reviews

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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Would definitely recommend for my YA readers. So glad to see more diverse books for YA.
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before I let go

By: Marieke Nijkamp

Publisher: Sourcefire Books

Publication Date: 2018

Corey and Kyra are best friends in the very small town of Lost Creek, Alaska, pop. 246.  Corey’s mom moves the family to Winnipeg and days before she comes back to see her best friend, Kyra is dead.  It seems impossible for the bright, bipolar friend to be gone and Corey keeps her plane reservation and flies to Lost.  Gone just a few months, Lost is different.  Instead of the social outcast that Kyra had always been, Corey finds her honored.  Over and over Corey is told that she’s an outsider and that Kyra was loved by Lost.  Corey can’t believe that Kyra would be loved by everyone and she sets out to investigate her friend’s “murder”.

This is an incredible psychological thriller that will take you on a trip.  What really happened to Kyra? Who is to blame and why is Corey suddenly an outsider in this small community.  Kyra paints during her manic depression periods and then tears them up.  But suddenly her pictures are everywhere.  Will Corey find the truth?  Will anyone believe her?  Or will Kyra’s picture of her inside a burning building be a real prophecy?   No matter what anyone says, Kyra didn’t survive her town. “We call them hero days,” Kyra said, “because that is when we fight fear itself. And we win.”

The story bounces from the moment to any period in the last two years.  The girls conversations bounce to the action of the moment.  The story races along, back and forth in time, trying to give glimpses of what happened to Kyra and what danger Corey is in.

Highly recommended: Grades 8 & up.
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The people of Lost, Alaska, are a tight knit group and do not take well to outsiders.  So, when Corey returns to her hometown of Lost to find out what really happened to her best friend Kyra, she finds that her hometown isn't as welcoming as she thought they would be.  
Corey only has a short time to figure out how and why Kyra died, but in the end Corey is not prepared for what she finds.
A solid read for those who like mystery.
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An exciting YA mystery. Kyra has died in a frozen pond in a remote Alaska village. Her best friend returns to mourn and find the reason. She is not greeted as a friend by the community even though she grew up there. Kyra suffered from bi-polar illness and was a talented artist. Her pictures and murals are all over town and seem to be sending a message.
This will be a good addition to any YA collection. Friendship, mourning, coming to terms with life, all give this book  a must read status.
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I found the book to be a bit choppy - I didn't mind the flashbacks, but at times they seemed unnecessary.  I closed the book with so many questions left unanswered, but it sure would make for a good discussion.  It is rather haunting. .  Also a very nice book to read on a very hot summer day.
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Let me tell you a story... a story about a girl who was diagnosed, labeled, and ostracized in a town that did not allow her to bloom and shunned her most of her life for being who she was.  Let me tell you a story about a girl who was once an outsider in her own town, but then became a prisoner, the town both choking her in its embrace and at the same time abandoning her and hiding her away.  Let me tell you a story about a town that came to worship a girl, but "drained her dry until she had nothing left to give." 
Let this book tell you a story, a story about mental illness, and stigma and exploitation.  Let this book tell you that story because it can in a way that is beautiful, yet frightening and horrifying- in a supernatural way, but no less so than the experiences of those who suffer the fates of similar inflictions in our own flawed society. Lost Creek Alaska may have a terrifying kind of magic, but the haunting atmosphere of it may speak of the truly dark experiences of so many individuals in reality who are alienated like Kyra.  Our world marginalizes the mentally ill when they seem not to fit the ideal, often to the point of cruelty and neglect. Yet the same world exalts and fetishizes their achievements in the art or work they produce for relief from their pain.  Superstars lost to suicide and drug addiction come to mind.  Before I Go is an artistically crafted vision, a unique and poetic way of looking at the issues of mental illness and stigma, and a captivating mystery as well.
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I'm surprised how disappointed I was with this title. I understand that the author is part of a diversity initiative, but the inclusion of some of the, um, inclusions seemed gratuitous. For example, in only one paragraph in the whole book was it thrown in that Corey had a black friend at school. It wasn't made relevant to the story; it wasn't necessary to the characterization or plot development; it was just thrown in for diversity's sake. That's not really my first disappointment, though. It's related to how many themes this one book tackles. Manic-depression, gays and lesbians, asexuality, suicide, the environment, precognition, superheroes, There were also a few Leitwortstils going on: the "endless day, endless night" song and "So be it." Nothing wrong with this device, but it felt excessive. The salmonberries motif was never resolved other than to allude to the fact that that "they don't grow here... The girl holds flowers that shouldn't be." The foreshadowing throughout the story was too obvious, too blatant -- luckily, none of the plot foreshadowing got mixed in with the prescient aspects of Kyra's malady. The superhero and the stars motifs left nothing to the reader's imagination; the author spelled out the metaphors through the characters' thoughts and dialog.  I also had questions as to some of the characters' actions. For example, while I understand why a teen gets involved in life and cannot answer ever letter she receives, I don't understand why Corey didn't respond to Kyra's "I want to study myths, not star in one" letter. Also, how can the town folk keep accusing Corey of leaving when she was just a 17 year old girl who was moved by her mother's job situation and not someone who ran from the situation? How did Roshan, who didn't even know Corey seven months ago, know that the Hendersons "care about you [Corey], like a second daughter" ... Especially since Kyra was separated from her family for quite some time in the seven months since Corey left? Finally, was the seven months that Corey was gone enough time for the whole town to turn into the Stepford Wives?  I guess I expected realistic fiction and got magical realism, which is irrelevant to my overall reaction to the storytelling. This would make a good book from which to teach metaphors and motifs, but it's not a must-have title for a school library.
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Thank you Marieke Nijkamp and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
As a teen novel I thinks this works, as an adult fiction it is a little bit confusing. I am not sure why I feel that way but it somehow makes sense to me.
I really enjoyed this novel, so many elements join to make this a fast moving mystery (or is it).
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before I let go
Before I Let Go by Marieke Niejkamp

Expected Publication: January 23rd 2018 by Sourcebooks Fire

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…

Note: I received an ARC of this via Netgalley. This in no way influences my opinion.

I have extremely mixed opinions about this book. I felt constantly compelled to carry on reading, but at the same time, I was left with more questions than answers and I often felt like the book didn’t flow as well as it could have done. The book felt choppy and I feel like things could have been explained a little better.

One of the things I both liked and disliked about the book was the flashbacks. It often went back in time and then came back to present day etc. Whilst I usually like this style of writing when used well, I don’t feel like it added anything extra to the story. It gave us snippets of the past between the two characters, but I don’t feel like it was entirely useful in understanding what happened. If it had been used better and given us more of an insight, rather than the snippets we were given, I feel like it could have really helped the readers and we could’ve gotten a better idea of the bigger picture.

Another issue I had with this book was the fact that I didn’t feel that much empathy for the characters. I feel like the chopping and changing between past and present stopped me from really connecting to the characters. Also, the author used a variety of different minority groups, to the point where I felt like she was using them to try and be different rather than actually representing them as they are. Corey was Asexual whilst Kyra was pansexual and bipolar at the same time. Whilst the bipolar was represented (as far as I know – I don’t understand a lot about the disorder, but some), I feel like it could have been represented more, rather than becoming the side issue. What I did like was the fact that no one really understood Kyra or what she was going through. I feel like this is so true to society because a lot of people misunderstand illnesses such as these and that leads to the sufferers feeling lonely and like an outsider – which is exactly what Kyra was feeling.

What I did like about this book was the creep factor. The town, the people and history of Lost Creek was completely eerie and it definitely had me wanting more. I had to know what was going to happen next and where it was going to go. I loved the spa and the feeling of abandonment that it had because I feel like it added something to the state of mind Kyra had before her death. The people were also completely creepy. I can definitely understand how the two MC’s felt like outsiders because it was a completely close knit community with secrets.

Another issue I had with this book was the ending. I felt like I had more questions about the characters and the events that led up to Kyra’s death than I did answers. There was some issues with the plot that confused me and which were never actually addressed. I also felt like the ending was a bit anti climatic considering the things that had happened before hand – I almost felt like there was something/a certain event that was missing that I would have liked to have seen, but it never happened. (I don’t want to say too much because spoilers).

All in all, I have completely mixed reviews about this book. I felt completely hooked by it and I had to know what was going to happen next, but at the same time I feel like it had its issues and could have been better. This book definitely has a lot of potential! Also, I just want to mention that I absolutely love the cover! I gave this book 3.5/5 stars.
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Rough chemo week - sorry I missed the deadline for this book. It sounded really good.
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