The Before Now and After Then by Peter Monn, published July 2014 by Pen Name Publishing.
Read: August 2014
Genre: Young Adult/Romance/LGBT
Source: Publisher – this does not affect my opinion of the book
Goodreads Synopsis: Danny Goldstein has always lived in the shadow of his identical twin brother, Sam. But when a hurricane of events forces him into the spotlight, he starts to realize that the only thing he’s truly afraid of is himself.
With the help of his costume changing friend Cher, a famous uncle with a mysterious past of his own, two ageing punk rocker parents and Rusty, the boy who will become his something to live for, Danny begins to realize that the music of the heart is truly the soundtrack for living.
I don’t even know where to start with this review. I was honestly extremely surprised by just how much I enjoyed this debut novel. We get to know so many characters; people who have faults, and who make mistakes, and who get insecure; and we get to follow a love story, a first-love story, and get carried away with all of the feels, and excitement, and raw emotions and… I need to go make some tea to calm down.
First of all, a few coincidental points that made me smile while reading this book – it starts on my birthday. The heading of the first chapter is my birthday. For some reason I enjoyed this. Also, one of the characters says, “and all that jazz” as a metaphor, sincerely. I do this. Finally, the main character, Danny, has actual thoughts that I’ve had. Me and this guy would be besties.
I’m ashamed by how little LGBT fiction I’ve read. It’s like I stopped reading at 17, and when I woke up (figuratively speaking) at 22 – BAM – there was this whole new genre I’d never really seen much of before. So, I’m going to work on that, and if this book is anything to go by, I need to work on it sooner rather than later.
You guys, I really loved this book! I had a few minor issues (I’ll get to that later) but overall this story blew me away – the writing is amazing. I don’t want to go all John-Green-Fangirl but this writing, it’s up there, you know?? It’s one of those books that while you’re reading you’re thinking, “That’s me!! That’s 16-year-old me right there on those pages!” Or, you have to set the book down for a minute and just have a think about some of those words. It’s one of those books you want to shout about, but at the same time keep it a secret because if anyone else reads it, it’s like they’re reading your inner thoughts.
I thought the majority of characters in this book were likeable; Danny faces personal struggles and self-esteem issues, going on quite the journey to overcome them, but he never comes across as annoyingly angst-ridden; Cher is a kooky and confident character; Rusty… Well, I did like Rusty but then towards the end of the book his actions pissed me off; Danny’s mum is a pretty amazing person really, I think everyone needs a Danny’s mum in their life… Personally, I’m not LGBT, and I think that’s a point I have to make in this review because there is a misconception that you need to be a member of the community to appreciate/like/get LGBT fiction. I’m here to tell you that you don’t. The themes, emotions and story-line in this novel span humanity, not sexuality.
“Love was in the moments, not the minutes.”
“Maybe, just maybe, the perfection in the world was found in the imperfection.”
I can’t give too much away in this review without spoiling the plot of this novel, and I really don’t want to do that because you should all read it, especially if you’re a fan of LGBT fiction. The minor issues I referred to earlier are the only reason this book isn’t getting a higher rating, and if you don’t want to know what they are, look away now!
>>> The story was a little too “insta-love” and “insta-friendship” for me. I read a lot of books with instant-attraction and even some that are pretty quick with the “I love you’s”, but we’re talking weeks, not days, so the timing of this book just felt… off. One thing that really bugged me was Cher’s story-arc – things happen to this character in the book that I felt should have been given more time, and should definitely have provoked stronger reactions from Rusty in the cafeteria and from Danny’s mum at his house. The seemingly blasé attitude just didn’t make sense to me, I’m pretty sure in reality more would have been said on this issue – both positive and negative. <<<
I read and reviewed this book as part of an Author Spotlight feature on Peter Monn. Author Interview and giveaway to follow 🙂