Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: Before I Go

Before I Go
By Colleen Oakley
Published: January 6, 2015

A heart-wrenching debut novel in the bestselling tradition of P.S. I Love You about a young woman with breast cancer who undertakes a mission to find a new wife for her husband before she passes away.

Twenty-seven-year-old Daisy already beat breast cancer three years ago. How can this be happening to her again?

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?

My review:

Before I Go is the story of a young woman who has just been handed a terrible diagnosis and the decisions she must make about how to spend the rest of her time. Daisy believes her husband will be lost without her so she sets about looking for her replacement. This project is her way of handling her diagnosis and all the things she'll never get to do like finishing her degree or having a baby. In a way I was reminded of Hazel Grace Lancaster, the heroine of The Fault in Our Stars, who is obsessed with finding out what happens after the teenage protagonist of her favorite novel dies. Hazel wants to know that life goes on beyond Anna's death because she herself wants reassurance that her parents will be okay when she is gone. In the same way, Daisy is looking for some kind of peace by planning a future for her husband without her in it. 

Jack's way of handling the cancer news is initially to reach out to Daisy but she keeps pushing him away so he buries himself in his work. What made me really sad was not just that Daisy's life would be cut short but that her marriage was also struggling under the weight of the diagnosis and the way she and Jack were growing apart.

Fortunately the author balances the sadness with some humor especially with Daisy's best friend Kayleigh. I liked Kayleigh and her matter-of-fact way of looking at things. She is great support for Daisy but she calls her out on things when she needs to. Daisy's mom is also trying to be there for her but it is hard for Daisy because her mom fell apart when her dad left so Daisy had to take care of her mom while she was a young teen. Now that her mom wants to take care of her it isn't so easy for Daisy.

Overall I liked Before I Go. It was sad at times but I felt more angry while reading the book as I saw things falling apart between Daisy and Jack and I kind of got annoyed with her plan to find Jack a new wife when I thought she should be reaching out to him instead of pushing him away. I guess it was an honest portrayal of the way two people react to difficult news in different ways. In the end I thought the story was touching but I didn't feel as emotional as I thought I would. I think readers who liked PS, I Love YouThe Promise of Stardust or Me Before You would like Before I Go though I liked those books more. Nicholas Sparks fans should also consider giving this book a try. I could see it being made into a movie.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss


  1. Great review, Christina. This one sounds like a heartbreaking read. I have been reading so many books focusing on death and suicide lately that I think I would have to be in a certain mood to pick this one up. I am curious to see how the author ties it all together in the end. I'm sure it would have me sobbing. Thanks for putting this book on my radar.

  2. Glad the author balances the emotions in the story. The concept sounds a bit frustrating (and sad), though. Why not enjoy the time you have left, instead of pulling away?

    Nice review!

  3. Sounds heart wrenching and beautiful indeed. Interesting how some books can easily be translated into film, and the premise does sound like a "nice" Nicholas Sparks-esque read.

  4. Lovely review, sounds like the type of read I enjoy and I loved The Promise of Stardust (I think I picked it up on your recommendation) but I have high expectations when it comes to death/grief books so I'm not sure ...


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