Great Illustrated Books

Before I Let Go

Marieke Nijkamp

Sourcebooks Fire
Pages : 368
Suggested Ages: 13 and up
ISBN: 9781492642282

Marieke Nijkamp, bestselling author of This is Where it Ends, once again brings a powerful story of heartbreak and survival in Before I Let Go. Corey and Kyra are best friends in a small isolated town called Lost in Alaska. Like the name implies, the few hundred residents of Lost are separated from and almost forgotten by the rest of the world. They endure darkness and brutal winters together in the heart of the cold and don’t take kindly to outsiders, who wouldn’t understand their way of life. 

Corey and Kyra are closer than sisters even though they couldn’t be more different. Kyra loved seeing the world through fantastical stories and couldn’t wait to escape the crutches of Lost. Corey, on the other hand, loves science and the town itself, but ultimately is the one to leave as her mom gets a job and her family moves to Canada. Kyra makes a promise to wait for Corey to return to Lost, but it is a tough one to keep as she has bipolar disorder and the town has treated her as an “other” for years. Only Corey had been there to help with the turbulence of her disease along with the biting words from former friends. 

The book’s narrative begins as Corey learns of Kyra’s seemingly suicidal death days before Corey was to return to Lost on school break. She immediately rushes to the town to honor her friend, heartbroken that Kyra broke her promise. However, the townspeople of Lost are not what Corey remembers. No one will explain what happened with Kyra, instead they all speak of her in revered tones opposite to the cruel remarks they consistently made about her beforehand. Corey is determined to find out the truth of what happened to her best friend even as the town she grew up in will go to any lengths, even fatal ones, to prevent it. Told in alternating past and present timelines, and even in third person story-like narrative, Corey beautifully portrays Kyra’s tale with pain and reverence.  

Before I Let Go is riveting and haunting as Corey seeks the truth in a place she thought would always be her home. Readers will get goosebumps and find the pages turning very quickly to figure out the mysteries of Lost and the story of Kyra herself. The author also sensitively handles difficult issues of mental health and suicide, while weaving in elements of fantasy throughout the atmospheric and mythical town of Lost. 

Reviewed by :

Themes : Suicide, grief, friendship, murder

If you love this book, then try:

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Critics have said

"Compulsive readability... intriguingly spooky" - Kirkus
"This sophomore novel from Nijkamp will haunt readers... The honest reflection of mental illness, suicide, friendship, and being an outsider provides ample topics for book discussion."