Before You Go
Preller’s novel opens with a car crash, but he does not reveal who is in the car. All you know is that there are four passengers and one dies. The second chapter begins weeks before the crash happens. The opening drives the plot, as the reader needs to know who dies in the crash. Every time four people got in a car, I braced myself and paid special attention to who sat shotgun.
"This suspenseful and tragic book exemplifies the struggle and beauty of being a teen."
Preller reveals such profound characters that I feared caring too much for them since I knew one of them was going to die. The narrator, Jude, has seen deep sorrow after the death of his little sister, which ruined his mother. It is this sorrow that has made him extremely mature for his mere sixteen years. Jude is forced to carry the burden of his mother’s depression and his sister’s death while also trying to take care of himself.
The summer before his senior year, Jude takes a job at a concession stand on Jones Beach on Long Island, NY. Amid the darkness of his home life, he falls in love with a coworker and opens up to her about his sister’s death. Becka is also a rich character, who provides support and understanding to a sometimes moody Jude, and his friends also provide a respite from his brooding mother. Among the videogames, zombie movies, and partying, I empathized with their struggle to find their way through their teenage years.
The suspense of the car crash kept me ripping through the pages. When I found out which one of them has their young life cut short, I accompanied Jude through his mourning. Yet, his friends were there to help him once again. This suspenseful and tragic book exemplifies the struggle and beauty of being a teen.
Reviewed by Kim Naples on September 21, 2012