Marieke Nijkamp Tackles Friendship and Mental Illness in ‘Before I Let Go’

Title: Before I Let Go
Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Genre: Young AdultMagical Realism
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Length: 368 pages
Available: 2 January 2018


 

Corey is only gone from Lost Creek, Alaska for seven months before everything changes. It’s not just the town that’s changed—a fact she doesn’t want to accept when she comes to 5170C53eImL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_visit—but her best friend is gone. Dead. Everyone says Kyra drowned under the ice a very frozen Wolf Lake, but Corey believes there is more to the story than what people are telling her.

“It was her time. Every story must end, because the ending gives the story meaning. Kyra knew that. She foresaw it. She foresaw a great many times.”
location 664

Corey knew her best friend better than she knew herself. Or so she thought. When Kyra was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which kept intensifying, Corey was the only one who still stayed friends with Krya. Friends so close that lines blurred between love and friendship. So close that when Corey comes home to Lost Creek for Kyra’s memorial, she swears she hears and sees Kyra everywhere. What she knows she does see is a town that once shunned Kyra was now celebrating her. Kyra’s paintings and murals were everywhere, showing life in Lost Creek getting better.

But was it actually getting better for Kyra?

In a town that refuses to change, Corey begins to unravel the horrors of what made Lost Creek so accepting of Kyra. The deeper into the truth Corey gets, the more she understands the hell her best friend went through after she left. And the more Corey’s life is in danger.

“The differences between us were never more obvious than when we looked at the night sky. I saw supernovas and explosions, while she saw the stories behind the phenomena.”
location 1022

Nijkamp navigates the ambiguous areas between friendship and love in such a way that will have readers examining their own friendships. She also brings to light how easy it is for someone who doesn’t have a mental illness to think they understand what it’s like and be completely wrong. There are a multitude of lessons to be learned in Before I Let Go, from the importance of storytelling, to respecting the stories and lands of other cultures, to the need for a better understanding, and acceptance, of the normality of mental illness.

Heartbreaking and horrifying, Before I Let Go will draw you in and hold you hostage until the very last page.

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