Music means more than anything to high school student Cate Reese; it’s also what unites her with Cal Woods. Devoted classical guitar players, Cate and Cal are childhood friends newly smitten by love—until a devastating car accident rips Cal out of Cate’s life forever. Blaming herself for the horrific tragedy and struggling to surface from her despair, Cate spirals downhill in a desperate attempt to ease her pain.
Fellow student David Bennet might look like the school’s golden boy, but underneath the surface the popular athlete battles demons of his own. Racked with survivor’s guilt after his brother’s suicide, things get worse when tragedy darkens his world again—but connecting with Cate, his sister’s longtime babysitter, starts bringing the light back in.
As Cate and David grow closer, the two shattered teenagers learn to examine the pieces of their lives…and, together, find a way to be whole again.
Before Goodbye left me in sadness about halfway through the book, but not for the reasons I probably should have been crying.
While the problems talked about in the book, i.e. drug abuse, alcoholism, addiction, grief, depression, etc., are problems prevalent in today’s society and important to talk about, I think the issues were too overwhelming. All the issues are interconnected, but the issues were touched on shallowly instead of delving into a few problems and really connecting the readers to the characters.
The relationships in the book felt shallow as well. Each character felt weirdly placed in one another’s lives, which led to the conversations being jilted and awkward. I guess that is just like real life, but also, in a way, not really. I have read fabulous books that I loved because it felt real. Sadly, Before Goodbye does not meet this criteria.
Now onto the positives. (I really hate writing negatives about books.) I felt connected to David as a character because he was discovering himself. His awkwardness was cute, for a while, but as his character grew I felt his awkward conversations should have disappeared as well. Cate’s character was awkward simply because she was only 16 years old compared to David’s 18 year old status. Mix those together and you’ll get awkward from anybody. I connected to David, also, because he used to be one thing but was trying to show another side of himself. Following him through this process left me feeling touched and emotionally connected to his character throughout the book.
I loved the determination of Mimi Cross to talk about all of the interconnecting issues discussed in the book, no matter how I felt about the workings of it. Not many books, or authors, willingly talk about these issues.
The final positive: DO NOT JUDGE THIS BOOK BY ITS COVER! I should have learned this lesson years ago from both the cliched saying and numerous other contemporary novels. (i.e. Even in Paradise) The fabulous cover art is fantastic to represent the full circle of happiness the novel starts with in the beginning and ends with at the end.
Much love, XOXO,
~A Writer Named Charley~