Saturday, June 28, 2014

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

 Title : Before I Go
Author : Colleen Oakley
Series : N/A, Standalone
Genre : Contemporary Fiction, 
Number of Pages : 320
Publication Date : January 6, 2015
Publisher : Gallery Books

Rating :

I received this book as a free copy from NetGalley. These books are given to me as review copies to read and evaluate. I am not obligated to write a review for any of the books I receive, but it is an encouraged practice. I choose which books I review on my blog and on my Goodreads profile. I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews. My reviews are always honest...I never lie about books. My opinions are my own and may be positive or negative depending on my feelings about a specific piece. Keep in mind, just because I may like or not like a book may not mean that you will feel the same way.

Twenty-seven year old Daisy already beat breast cancer three years ago. On the eve of what was supposed to be a triumphant "cancerversary" with her husband Jack to celebrate three years of being cancer-free, Daisy suffers a devastating blow--her doctor tells her that the cancer is back, but this time it's an aggressive stage four diagnosis. She may have as few as four months left to live.

Death is a frightening prospect, but not because she's afraid for herself. She's terrified of what will happen to her brilliant but otherwise charmingly helpless husband when she's no longer there to take care of him. It's this fear that keeps her up at night, until she stumbles on the solution: she has to find him another wife.

With a singular determination, Daisy scouts local parks and coffee shops and online dating sites looking for Jack's perfect match. But the further she gets on her quest, the more she questions the sanity of her plan. As the thought of her husband with another woman becomes all too real, Daisy's forced to decide what's more important in the short amount of time she has left: her husband's happiness--or her own?

-Abbreviated/edited Goodreads blurb

Here's the most important thing to know about this book...I had to remind myself on multiple occasions that this was fiction and I wasn't reading a memoir. It just felt real. Sign number one of good writing. Sign number two? The whole cancer thing started to make me a little paranoid about my own life. That may sound a bit weird, but when I can feel affected enough by a book to reevaluate pieces of my own life, I consider that a pretty powerful piece of writing.

Not only does she just write a good story, Colleen Oakley writes some good characters. I liked Daisy right away. I could identify with her, despite her being nearly a decade younger than myself. I wanted to get to know her and fight for her. She was real enough that I could envision her as a neighbor. She was someone I could see myself being friends with. Her husband Jack seems like a pretty darned nice guy too. If this book was a movie, I'm pretty sure he'd be played by Ryan Gosling. He's just this side of swoon-worthy for a large portion of the book.

I loved Daisy and Jack, but they totally pissed me off too. Why? Because they behaved like real people instead of book characters. They're flawed just enough to become frustrating. They both made stupid decisions and acted like idiots more than once in their decisions along the way.

There were a couple of small pieces of the story that raised some questions and seemed like holes in the plot, but with a little work these could easily have been solved, so I didn't let them get to me too much.

This book had me very emotionally involved - from start to finish. And it had me run the gamut too. I was happy, sad, frustrated, angry, confused. I was just this side of crying. Again, sign of a good book and some good writing.

The ending took away some for me. That was the most frustrating thing about the whole read. This book could have had the love story power of The Notebook if it wasn't for the darned ending. The whole thing was wrapped up far too quickly. It felt like one of those times where an author just decides "meh, good enough", brushes off their hands, and walks away from a story that has some powerful potential. That made me seriously angry with a book I had been falling head over heels for up to that point.

I waffled for a minute on my rating for this one. I had to step away from my anger with the ending to see it all clearly. I almost gave it three stars, but it really deserves the four. Two things could have made it a 5-star review for me. First off, the quick ending I mentioned earlier. Secondly, I can't spell this one out too well without making a spoiler, so I'll just leave it as...I think a large chunk of time was inappropriately left out and glossed over. The book could have been so much more powerful if that section had been fully written. Despite these issues, I still liked the book. I loved the first two-thirds. I liked the last third.

This one goes into the "must read" category. A very impressive freshman novel by Colleen Oakley. I'm looking forward to her next book.

1 comment:

  1. "Before I Go" sounds like a very compelling and provocative read. Thanks so much for sharing it! I will put it on my "to read" list.


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