Before I let Go by Marieke Nijkamp
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Summary from NetGalley:
Corey and her best friend, Kyra, are inseparable. Corey is the only person who understands Kyra’s high-highs and low-lows. So when Corey’s family moves away from their Alaskan town, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winters and wait for her return. Except Kyra doesn’t.
Two days before Corey is to visit, Kyra is found floating underneath the ice.
While everyone in Lost Creek deems Kyra’s death a suicide, Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. The town is keeping secrets—chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to Kyra may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…
ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
I had a lot of mixed feelings while reading this story. It is somewhat a jumbled mess that switches from a present day narrative, to flashbacks, phone conversations, a script for a movie/play and letters written by Kyra to Corey. All these different styles made it hard to keep the story flowing, but somehow it all worked in the end and made for a beautiful story of grief and knowing that we can never go home again.
I don’t think that I can say that I liked Corey, but I certainly understood her and I sympathized with her plight. At times I thought she was delusional in her belief that she was a good friend to Kyra, at times it seemed that she didn’t understand her at all. But at lease she tried, unlike most of the people in Lost. I could also understand her need to know what had happened to her friend in the 7 short months that she had been gone. I think Corey comes out stronger in the end with a better understanding of life and loneliness.
We mostly only get to know Kyra through the eyes of those she left behind and by the notes and diary she left behind. She was diagnosed as bi-polar and I felt that the author did a good job of describing the effects of that illness on the person and on those around them. I liked Kyra and felt her pain. I would also liked to have seen more from her diary or letters than what we got.
Although Lost Creek is the setting, it was almost a character as well and the place and the people that live there certainly contributed to the story. The setting was beautifully written and certainly captured the Alaskan wilderness well. This quote certainly captures the town in a nutshell.
“The first colonial settlers in Lost found that winter is not malleable, and frost settles too, Kyra once told me. And no matter how hard they tried they could not escape being lost… And they could not escape Lost.”
The plot is a bit of a mess, as far as continuity goes. It is hard to put the pieces all together when you are constantly going back and forth between present and past. But as we learn along with Corey about what has been going on in Lost while she was gone and ultimately what happened to Kyra, sent chills down my spine. The towns people’s motivation was also puzzling and a bit freaky.
In the end I found this to be a beautiful and powerfully moving story. I don’t think that it is a book for everyone, but those who do push through to the end will find it a moving story about grief and friendship.