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Radiant Shadows

Before You Go

Before You Go - James Preller Before You Go is a gorgeously written tale about the kind of heartbreak that only comes with the passing of a loved one. An omniscient and mostly numb protagonist did distance me as a reader, but being well-paced, I found Before You Go to be a mostly enjoyable read.The opening scene which details the car accident has to be one of my favourite scenes of late. The atmosphere sets the tone for the rest of the novel and provides the plot with a sense of suspense as it foreshadows the moment Jude's life is changed forever....again.Jude is an interesting character. Feeling guilt over his sister's tragic death, he distances himself from almost everyone in his life. Shrouded in slight darkness, his almost brooding temperament adds mystery and intrigue to his character. The way he dealt with loss was completely believable, as struggled with who he was, what his place in the world was to be, and what the point of it all was. Lost and disillusioned, his only course of action was to further distance himself from those left. This did make for a challenging read as his mood swings were unpredictable - one second he was able to laugh with friends, the next he was purposely hurting someone so they wouldn't try to get close to him again. It created some distance between me as a reader and Jude as a character, as I wasn't fully able to relate to him even though I understood his motives. So while I found some of the writing to be breathtakingly beautiful, as it was almost lyrical in its expressiveness, I also found it could have used just a little more depth to further my connection with Jude.The plot was...nonexistent? Come the end, I wasn't fully aware of what Before You Go was trying to accomplish, the point it was trying to make. Jude didn't stumble across the answers to his problems, nor did he resolve most of his issues. He seemed to be at greater ease over his sister's death, but I wouldn't say he found closure. His relationship with Becka seemed to be back on track, but the type of pain he caused her isn't something she would easily forgive and forget. The weird relationship he shared with his parents was never fully explained, nor was his mother's odd behaviour after the accident. I guess one could speculate that Before You Go is about how a young teen might deal with love and loss, but Jude didn't deal with his emotions - he just shut them (and everyone around him) out until it didn't hurt as bad. Maybe that was the point - that only time can heal some wounds.A relatively short read, I really liked Before You Go. The writing is great, and I did enjoy the numerous pop culture references (though, I can't say everyone will feel the same). I found Jude to be a relatively relatable fifteen-year-old, even though I found myself wishing for a little more depth to his character. If you've got a couple hours to spare, I'd recommend giving Before You Go a chance!Review also posted on my blog, Radiant Shadows