Review- Before I Let You Go

Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

35758169Genre: Fiction
Format: Paperback ARC
Publication date: April 3, 2017
Publisher: Graydon House
Page count: 376 (ARC)
Star rating: 5/5

Annie Vidler is in deep, deep trouble. She’s not only pregnant, but also currently addicted to heroin. After many failed attempts at detoxing herself at home, she calls her sister, Lexie, who she hasn’t spoken to in 2 years. The two used to be incredibly close, as they grew up in a strict, religious household and only had each other to keep them company. Last time they talked, Lexie kicked Annie out because of her spiraling addiction. Now, Annie has no one to turn to and her baby’s life is on the line. Lexie has always been a “fixer” and seems to be there to catch Annie whenever she falls, so of course she swoops back into her life and tries to save the day. Unfortunately, in Alabama it’s illegal to use heroin while pregnant, so Annie gets charged and may lose custody of her baby before it is even born. Once again, Lexie is expected to magically make everything better, no matter the toll it might take on her own, personal life.

Thank you to Graydon House for sending me an advanced review copy of this title, I’m grateful for publishers who continue to believe that diverse books are important and need to be talked about more often.

Before I Let You Go is beautiful. It’s beautiful and raw. Annie experiences so much hurt throughout the entire novel . The reader feels all of Annie’s emotions, too, every step of the way. Pain, shame, and anger radiate through the words of Annie’s narration, which is almost addictive, itself. Both Annie and her child face struggles felt by the many people who are affected by the opioid epidemic. Kelly Rimmer’s novel helps educate readers on a disease that is not discussed enough in literature.

From the very beginning, Annie’s pain pours out through the language of Before I Let You Go. She is pregnant and wounded badly in many ways. Annie is ashamed of using drugs while pregnant, but she is hurting on the outside, too, because of the damage caused by all her attempts at getting sober at home. She’s in desperate need of medical attention, though scared of going to a hospital in fear of them taking away her baby. Annie is stuck and her last hope is Lexie.

Lexie, too, emits a lot of pain through her words. She has suffered tremendously, watching her sister fight addiction and fail to get sober time and time again. No matter how many intensive programs Lexie pays for, Annie can’t seem to get sustainable clean time. It’s obvious that Lexie will do nearly anything to help her sister, no matter how much destruction it causes in her own life. The two sisters love each other, but obstacles prevent them from effectively showing it. While reading this title, the reader grapples with this unhealthy, borderline toxic relationship. It’s obvious both Lexie and Annie want to heal and face their past traumas, but they are not sure how to do this.

The way Kelly Rimmer describes the emotional and physical toll addiction puts on an individual and their loved ones is both accurate and honest. Annie is part of one of the most stigmatized populations—she is an addict and she is pregnant. She is treated poorly by medical professionals, despite the training doctors receive in bearing no bias towards their patients. Even Lexie, who loves her sister endlessly, catches herself placing blame on Annie for not being ‘strong enough’. Lexie knows addiction is a disease, but the stereotypes sometimes seep into her mind.

Before I Let You Go is powerful because it provides insight into what addiction truly looks like. The pubic is constantly fed lies about addiction—that it is a choice or the fault of the individual. Kelly Rimmer tells her readers that addiction is a disease and needs to be treated as one. Hopefully, this novel will reach readers of different backgrounds to show them how devastating addiction can be for an entire family. Thank you, again, to Graydon House for sending me this engrossing novel.

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Review- Charlotte and Daisy

Charlotte and Daisy by Amanda Rotach Lamkin

4/5 stars

Binding: Paperback
Publisher: Line by Lion Publications
Publication date: August 19th, 2015
Page count: 448

51YFXSPYupL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Charlotte has lived her life crippled by severe depression for too long. After multiple hospitalizations, she decides to apply for a procedure that would alter the way her mind functions. To Charlotte’s surprise, the doctors choose her to be their patient, the operation is done, and her brain is reconstructed. Suddenly, Charlotte’s life is turned around and she becomes interested in things that never appealed to her before, such as relationships and a career path. The only thing that could hinder her development is a malfunction in her programming, but her new life is worth the risk.

Amanda Rotach Lamkin does an amazing job depicting the realities of depression and how scary the illness can be. Charlotte has spent long periods of time in treatment centers, experienced bouts of the inability to get out of bed, and been prescribed many, many medications. These are all things that happen to real people who suffer from depression. It’s refreshing to read a book that doesn’t tip toe around the ‘unattractive’ symptoms of mental illnesses. It was also nice to see that, even after Charlotte gets her operation done, she is not 100% ‘cured’ of her illnesses. She still has times when her brain reverts back to things like catastrophic or black and white thinking patterns. Even with the brain surgery done, Charlotte still has to manage stress and triggers. Mental illnesses are always a work in progress, you cannot just ‘get better’ and be relieved of all symptoms forever, even in Charlotte’s case.

I really liked Charlotte’s boyfriend, Aidian, as well. He is the perfect example of how a loved one of someone with depression should act. Aidian is always there for Charlotte, good day or bad, and loves her unconditionally. I think that Amanda Rotach Lamkin did an excellent job writing the scene in which Charlotte has flashbacks while her and Aidian are being intimate. Flashbacks are a very real experience for people with PTSD and sex can be triggering. The way Aidian reacts to Charlotte’s flashbacks is very raw and it is easy to tell that he deeply cares about her, even though he doesn’t completely understand what is happening. Aidian truly is a good guy and the way he was written was perfect.

Actually, I want to dedicate a paragraph to a discussion about the flashback scene. Charlotte closes her eyes, experiences a flashback of being forced into sex when she was younger, and then runs away from Aidian and locks herself in the bathroom. Charlotte’s whirlwind of emotions of fear, confusion, and shame are all too real for people that suffer from PTSD and trauma related illnesses. Her body reacts in a way that she doesn’t understand and she feels ashamed of it. She is so ashamed that she doesn’t even want to explain what happened to Aidian, basically leaving him in the dark and unsure of what the problem was. This scene really proved to me that Amdan Rotach Lamkin is a responsible author who does her research on the characters she writes about.

Charlotte and Daisy was an excellent start to my BookCon haul. I wanted to read a new book about characters with mental illnesses for a while, so I’m really happy right now. I admire the work that Amanda Rotach Lamkin puts into her writing and character development; she wrote about depression and PTSD in a very responsible and educational way. In addition, this book is such a great homage to Flowers for Algernon. If you’re looking for a good diverse book, this is it.