The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.
As weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhood, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?
Both candid and compassionate, Before I Let You Go explores a hotly divisive topic and asks how far the ties of family love can be stretched before they finally break.
To share my opinion and intake of this title is not going to be easy, but I will do my best to express the impact this novel had on me. I have sat with my thoughts now for several days, digesting everything, and will try to do justice for Before I Let You Go.
The story is told in the first person POV by both of the sisters, even though Annie's part is from her journal. I am not a fan of the 1st person POV yet here it works. It gives the opportunity to go deep in the thoughts of the sisters, showing the deepest and darkest secrets and reflections as the tale unfolds. It goes smoothly from present to the past so the whole story can be revealed.
The novel is beautifully crafted, each moment pulling the reader deeper into the world of the sisters. The writing in itself is smooth and easy to absorb, thankfully, since the what is written about is terrifying, drastically beautiful, raw and real, and breath-taking in more than one sense.
In my eyes, the author had thoroughly researched the material, and the medical facts and the experiences Annie went through as she is falling deeper into the world of addiction sounded realistic and true every step of the way.
The bond between the two sisters is amazing and it is demonstrated delicately and repeatedly until there is no doubt in the reader's mind how strong and binding it truly is.
I was surprised that it was Annie I first started to bond with, instead of Lexie who seemingly had her life together. The abuse Annie had to go through, and the way she was purposely broken and shattered in her mind and soul, broke my heart. She was a tenderhearted, sweet, kind and thoughtful girl until her world was devastated and changed forever. Some of the scenes, both with the abuse as well as with Annie's drug use, go so deep into that dark and ugly world, that I had to take a deep breath before I could continue reading. Because putting down the novel before finding the destiny for the sisters was not an option for me.
Lexie was the more complex sister in my mind. While Annie's past gave a good understanding of her present, Lexie had survived in her own way, mostly by ignoring and hiding the pain, thus it was difficult to see into her soul through all the walls she had built in order to survive. Her need to stay in control, to fix things, to take care of things on her own, and if possible hide it from the surrounding environment and people in it, came from the sisters past as much as Annie's drug abuse did. For her to let go of the power that came with the control was as hard as for Annie getting sober.
With the heartwrenching story of the sisters and their forever bind, on the side is one of the most beautiful love stories I have read. Sam, Lexie's fiance, and his love, understanding, patience, support, and caring were a delightful thing to witness. The love was a power that brought light into the devastating story. In the blurb, it was written that Sam's patience was tested because of Annie's action but it was never Annie that tested Sam's peace of mind. It was Lexie's inability to let Sam support and help her, to let Sam carry part of the task, to share the responsibility, to be a team. As I was reading about Sam's and Lexie's relationship, the bond, the trust, the unquestionable love that was there spoke volumes to me. In my mind, the verse of what love really is started to play as the soundtrack for the novel: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
A heartbreaking, raw, dark, devastating novel of the life of a drug abuser and how the abuse dribbles into the lives of the loved ones. Yet within all the gloom and shadows, there is the red line of love between the sisters, a love and bind that is tested but proven to be true.
One of the heaviest and most disturbing yet delicately beautiful stories I have read.
~ Five Spoons!