Are there any answers when someone you love makes a tragic choice?
Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old–a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.
If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother–and herself–from the endless replay of heartache and grief.
Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?
Excuse me a moment while I attempt to mop up my puddle of tears.
*dispatches entire box of Kleenex*
This book began with me not liking Rowan at all (and never once liking her “friend,” Nadia). I thought she was really immature and her actions/thought processes frustrated me. Looking back now, I see how that was the point–she was innocent; a normal, angsty, drama-filled teenage girl.
But something terrible happened.
And she would never be that naive, young-minded girl again.
That one event, that crime had such lasting and permanent effects that it left everyone involved wondering what they could have done differently. Everyone is drowning in their own guilt and anger and how hard it is to go on after what happened. It’s gritty and honest about Rowan’s experience in dealing with loss and grief, and I felt it down to my bones.
And even though I’m a definite romantic, this book wasn’t really about the love growing between Rowan and Eli and I was perfectly okay with that. Shocking, right?;) Usually I’m all about the L-O-V-E but this book was about WAY more than that. Life and death, living and dying, grieving and progressing–those are more important issues.
There were so many times I came close to tears while reading this, and I was preemptively congratulating myself on a job well done before I even finished the book. But nearing the end the emotion that was conveyed was powerful and tipped me over the crying-edge and I trailed tears through the rest of the book.
It was a beautiful story.
Yeah, it was depressing–the entire situation is depressing, but there’s eventually hope and promise. I just loved this story. A poignant view of coping with loss, one that resonated with me and that I won’t forget.