Now I do sometimes struggle with what’s known as ‘women’s fiction’ and more so when a book has a message, this falls into both categories but despite some reservations, there was lots to enjoy and think about.
Lexie and Annie are sisters, and in the middle of the night, after two years with no contact Annie rings Lexie asking for help. Annie is an addict and she’s pregnant. Annie is also very ill and needs to go to hospital but if she does she could be charged with child endangerment because of the drugs she’s taken.
Here lies the message with the author urging the reader to see that this isn’t the right approach for the law to take over addiction, which we are reminded frequently, is an illness and therefore if helped the women can turn their lives around and care for their children. Personally I think this is a far from black and white issue but I will say no more on the subject, if you want to ponder on this further, this is the book to make you do so.
That off my chest the book takes us back to the girl’s childhood which includes loss and moving to a cult. This part is told through Annie’s eyes in a journal she writes to her therapist and it’s not only incredibly moving, expertly creating a whole world of confusion for the young girl which felt realistic. Through Annie’s journal which we read excerpts from throughout the novel we learn more about her descent into drugs, this too with no personal experience of the matter also felt highly authentic. Kelly Rimmer knows how to tell a story convincingly and I defy anyone not to have their heartstrings pulled by Before I Let You Go.
Lexi is a doctor, the older sister who had the same upbringing but her approach as a child was different and of course even siblings do not necessarily have the same reactions to each other. Lexi had always cared for Annie and the bond between the two is again created in full technicolour.
Before I Let You Go is an emotional read and I have to admit even though I despised the choices she made, in many ways I felt far more of a connection with Annie than Lexie. Lexie was just a little too perfect for me and I could see how being her younger sister would cause some ‘issues’ To make matters more complicated Lexie is planning to marry Sam, another doctor and someone else that had good person running thorough his core like a stick of rock. Lexie’s need to be independent causes issues between the couple, and if I were Sam I would probably have stated my case far earlier and more strongly than he did.
So a book about relationships in the main those between siblings and their parents viewed through the interesting angle of life in a cult. As much as I struggled with the message at times, I would have ripped your arm off if you’d tried to remove this book from my hands before I’d finished it. In the world of books it can be good to read a book that arouses strong emotions, even when they aren’t positive ones, and believe me, I was irritated by all the characters more than once!
I am very grateful to the publisher Headline Review who allowed me to read a copy of Before I Let You Go ahead of publication. This unbiased review is my thank you to them.