Before I Let Go is a young adult novel by Marieke Nijkamp. I was excited about the opportunity to read this book because I enjoyed reading her first book, This Is Where It Ends.
Corey grew up in a small town in rural Alaska. Really small. As in, 246 people. She and her family moved away, but she has planed to go back and see her best friend Kyra. Two days before Corey’s arrival, Kyra is found dead, and everyone seems convinced that it was a suicide because of Kyra’s mental health diagnoses.
Corey is naturally shocked and confused, and decided to proceed with her visit anyway so that she can attend Kyra’s memorial service. Even though she has only been away from Lost Creek a short time, so much has changed. Kyra feels like a stranger in her old home.
When she tries to ask questions, she is shut down. The kids who shunned Kyra act like she was a valued member of the community. There’s a lot of muttering about fulfilling prophecies. Corey senses danger, but there is no way for her to leave; she’s quite literally trapped in Lost Creek.
The story unfolds through conventional narrative: both from present-day and flashbacks. There are also fragments of letters that Kyra wrote to Corey and never sent. Finally, some of the story unfolds via scripted vignettes that look like a screenplay. I found myself slightly confused by this last format; it didn’t mesh as well with the rest of the novel as the other mediums.
I liked this book. Nijkamp does an excellent job of creating a suspenseful ambience. Hints are dropped like breadcrumbs, and everything seems innocuous at first, but the feeling of dread creeps up slowly. I feel like the Big Reveal was not what I expected it to be after the masterful buildup leading up to it. I was left with so many questions about characters’ motivations that were left unanswered.
I would recommend Before I Let Go. This book will appeal to the target demographic of young adult readers. This is a compelling thriller, and I found myself reading quickly to find out what was going to happen next. I am already looking forward to Nijkamp’s next book!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.