Cover Image

Before We Go by A. Bright

Bright, Amy. Before We Go. Red Deer: Red Deer Press, 2012. Print.

Before We Go is the bright debut of young adult novelist, Amy Bright. There is much to admire about this novel such as the quality of writing, the well-developed characters, and a carefully orchestrated plot.

Bright’s story is set in Victoria, British Columbia and begins on New Year's Eve with 17-year-old Emily visiting her dying grandmother in hospital. Her grandmother’s imminent death is particularly poignant for Emily as she was raised by her grandparents when years before, Emily’s mother opted to pursue a career as a journalist in Vancouver leaving Emily in Victoria. With the death of her grandfather occurring a year ago, Emily’s routine of school, hospital, and home has left her lonely, isolated, and distant. However, this changes when Alex, a cancer patient at the hospital, asks Emily to join him and his sister, Lucy, for New Year’s Eve. Emily doesn’t know that Alex is dying from cancer and that his planned escape from the hospital is his last chance to be a normal teenaged boy.

There is excellent chemistry and a genuine connection among the three main characters. It is apparent that Lucy loves Alex dearly and is torn between taking him back to the hospital and honoring his wish for one last adventure. Their night on the town takes them to several places and eventually to a New Year's Eve party. Through a series of flashbacks, the reader learns that the meeting between Emily and Alex is not coincidental and that family secrets have brought them together and will shape their lives and change them in ways none of them could have expected.

The entire novel takes place over the course of one day and the use of flashbacks keep the reader engaged and provides further context for the character’s current situation. The ending of the story is abrupt, heart-breaking, and surprising. While the title of the book is layered with meaning, unfortunately, the cover art in this edition does not adequately convey the story. The novel would also benefit from additional editing. Overall, Before We Go is a recommended read for those who enjoy good, contemporary stories.

Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Tami Oliphant

Tami Oliphant works as a research librarian at the University of Alberta Libraries and for the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. She earned her Master of Library and Information Studies from the University of Alberta and her doctorate from the University of Western Ontario. She has worked in academic libraries, public libraries, communications and planning, and as a sessional lecturer and researcher at the University of Alberta and the University of Western Ontario.