Before I Go by Colleen Oakley, published January 2015 by Gallery Books.
Read: January 2015
Source: Publisher – this does not affect my opinion of the book.
Get It Now: Wordery
Goodreads Synopsis: Daisy is 27-years-old and has only months to live. And, each day, she’s finding her way through what needs to be done. Her major worry is what her wonderful, charming husband, Jack, will do without her. She knows that he won’t take care of himself so Daisy has to do it for him. As she searches for Jack’s next wife, she begins to realise that her plan to ensure Jack’s happiness is much more complicated than she expected.
*Warning – there may be spoilers ahead!*
I’ve done another joint review, this time with Brandie from Brandie is a Book Junkie. I’m really loving these joint reviews! I’ll do a post soon explaining why there are so many of these happening on the blog, and why they are going to continue! Now, on to the review…
R: Where to begin?! I stayed up til 3am to finish this book. It was a serious piece of work – and it was difficult to read at times, it was heavy and sad, yet I appreciated the subtle humour throughout it.
B: THIS BOOK broke my heart. I loved and hated it. The writing is exquisite. Beautiful prose that just flowed seamlessly. The way Daisy talked – it was like talking to a friend, it felt so real to me. I am blown away by this being a debut author. I wish all novels had writing like this.
R: I agree, the writing was fantastic, I’m amazed it’s a debut and I’ll be keeping an eye on what Oakley releases next!
I have a lot in common with Daisy, from phrases we share, to thoughts on other people, to some of her reactions being close to mine – it made the read both more enjoyable and more sad. I adored Jack, I loved a lot of the characters in this novel actually, they felt so real.
B: I agree, but by the end of the book I was so pissed off at Daisy. I know I could never fully understand the turmoil and grief she’s feeling when she knows she’s dying. But how much she continued to push her sweet husband away really started bothering me. It was breaking my heart, and I felt my stomach in constant knots. I know that was a ploy by the author to keep me reading, and kudos to her for that! I could sympathize with a lot of what she was dealing with, but at the same time I wanted to shake her for being so awful to her husband, and pushing him away when she needed him most.
R: Yep, there were moments I was mad at Daisy, especially towards the end of the novel, but as you say we just can’t begin to imagine how someone would behave under these circumstances. I knew she was going to die, obviously, but I still had hope! I don’t know if it was because I willed for a HEA against the odds or if I was just being stupidly naive, but as soon as I turned to one year later and saw Jack’s name for the POV my heart cracked. But within those first few lines, there still seemed to be some hope! My HEA was within sight!.. And then the words that completely shattered my cracked heart -Daisy’s gone. I cried actual tears. This is RARE for me. I feel like I’ve lost Daisy too.
B: I never really had hope for a happy ending or a different outcome. I had come to terms with it and was just hoping for a reconciliation before it was too late. That last chapter had me in tears. I adored Jack. And I think the ending was perfect, despite the circumstances.
This is the type of book that puts a lot of things into perspective. If you haven’t lost someone to cancer or have never been diagnosed with it, you can never understand fully what someone is going through. My heart broke for Daisy and Jack the entire time I read the book, because I knew no matter what, there wasn’t going to be an ideal outcome.
R: It makes it such a difficult read, because you know what’s coming, but for some reason (perhaps because I enjoy some perspective now and again?) I like reading difficult stories. Not too many of them in a row though, because that can be overwhelming! One gripe I do have, and it’s reasonably minor, is the use of the “I released the breath I didn’t know I’d been holding” phrase. It gets to me every time I see it because it’s so over-used, and I noticed it at least 4 times in quick succession in Before I Go – that irked me a little.
Rating and Overall:
B: I gave this book 4 stars because the writing was superb. Although the book read a little slow for me at times, I did enjoy it. I’m still thinking about it days later, and that’s saying something about the author’s beautiful writing. I definitely recommend this book.
R: My final rating is 4 stars – the book struck an emotional chord for me, and while it was a heavy, and at times difficult read, it was very well written and enjoyable overall.
Have you read Before I Go? Do you enjoy reading stories about difficult subjects? Let us know in the comments!