Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"Before I Go" by Colleen Oakley

Three years ago twenty-seven-year old Daisy beat breast cancer. Life is good, she's in school focusing on her graduate studies and her husband is so close to graduating from veterinary school. In a cruel twist of fate Daisy finds out that her cancer is back on the eve of her third "cancerversary" to celebrate being three years cancer free. Not only is the cancer back, but there is "Lots of Cancer" and it is an aggressive stage four kind this time around. Daisy needs to prepare herself for the fact that death is imminent.

Daisy is understandably scared to die, but she's not just frightened for herself. Who will care for her brilliant yet absent-minded husband, Jack, whom she loves with a ferocity that surprises her? He can't even get his socks into the hamper at night, so Daisy lies awake at night worrying how he will survive without her. They live in a house that Daisy is in the process of fixing up, but with her gone, how will Jack manage to finish it all? One sleepless night Daisy comes up with the solution- she needs to find Jack a wife before she dies and that way she will know that Jack will be well looked after once she's gone.

As Daisy scours online dating profiles and hits the dog park looking for a second wife for her husband she begins to question the sanity of her plan. After all, with only a short time left on this earth should she be focused on Jack's future happiness or on making her last days count?

I absolutely loved Before I Go, and although it's early in 2015 I have no doubt that it will make its way on to my list of "best of's" at the end of the year. Poignant and touching, Before I Go had me hooked from the first sentence. I was touched by the unfairness of the cancer recurrence in a young woman who had so much left to offer the world. Daisy's life seemed to just be beginning, and already it was coming to an end. The scenes between Daisy and her doctor were especially sad, as her doctor gently explained that this time around there was "Lots of Cancer" and that there was truly no way to fight it.

Yet somehow this story manages not to be depressing or maudlin. It wasn't until the end that I actually shed any tears. Daisy's quest to marry off her husband is admirable and often humorous. I can't imagine what it would be like to actually be in this situation, planning to marry off a man that you love so much, yet Colleen Oakley manages to keep the tone light throughout much of the book.

Daisy's personality made her all the more relatable. She felt real to me, like someone who could be in the checkout line at the grocery store behind me, or like someone I would run into at the library. She was stubborn and fearless and fearful and sad and selfless all at the same time. If she were real she is someone that I would most definitely want to get to know better.

Before I Go is a heartbreaking yet simultaneously heartwarming story that had me wondering how I would spend my last days if I knew that I had a pending expiration date. Would I worry about my own happiness, or would I only be focused on the happiness of the ones that I would be leaving behind? With a conclusion that only serves to enhance the beauty of this book, Before I Go is a must-read that will appeal to fans of Cecelia Ahern's P.S. I Love You and Taylor Jenkins Reid's Forever, Interrupted. My thanks to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy.

2 comments:

  1. I haven't read this one yet but I got to go to a lunch with Colleen (she's delightful--and currently pregnant with twins) and then to her reading later that night. Obviously I got myself the book. Sounds like I should pick it up sooner rather than later.

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    1. Wow! It's fantastic that you got to meet her!! The book was amazing and I'm sure that you'll love it. I can't wait for her next one, although since she's pregnant with twins I may be waiting a while, LOL!

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