Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Before You Go by James Preller

The summer before his senior year, Jude (yes, he’s named after the Beatles song) gets his first job, falls in love for the first time, and starts to break away from his parents. Jude’s house is kept dark; no one talks much—it’s been that way since his little sister drowned in a swimming pool when Jude was supposed to be watching her.

He was watching her. He looked away for just a moment. He was only nine years old. And he’s never truly grieved for her, or for the emotional deaths of his parents, who refuse to talk about what happened. Seven years later, Jude is finally, finally starting to live. Really live. And then life spins out of control. Again.

Acclaimed author James Preller explores life, death, love, faith, and resilience in a story that will grip readers from the book’s dramatic first few pages to its emotional end.

This book begins and ends with powerful prose. It strikes the reader from the first few lines that it will be a beautiful one to read. And, although it doesn’t always deliver plot-wise in my opinion, the beauty of it does not disappoint.

Jude, the protagonist, is quite interesting. There is a darkness, a brooding quality, that adds a bit of mystery to what could have been just another dull teen character. He is full of contradictions. Once in a while, this can become a bit frustrating to the reader, who would like nothing more than to kick him into some kind of action, but for the most part, we are happy to follow him along on his struggles.

I guess the main issue I had with the book was that it had a hollow feeling to it. Now, this might have been done on purpose, but still, it didn’t draw me in as I’d hoped it would. The writing was truly gorgeous, expressive, lyrical, but the plot could have used more layers, I thought. More nuances.

I still do recommend it. The writing alone is worth the book, but for some of you this might seem like a lackluster story.

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