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Before I go by Colleen Oakley is a book about Daisy Richmond, a 27 year-old who has terminal cancer. She marries her college sweetheart and before she dies she wants to find a new wife for her husband.
This book review is difficult for me. The reason? Colleen Oakley is a great writer. Her writing style is brilliant. It’s beautiful, lyrical and quite amusing for such a topic. She’s great at flashbacks, descriptions, characterizations and everything. As a fellow writer I can thoroughly appreciate her skill. Even better, her research if phenomenal. To say I am a fan of hers is an understatement.
The problem? I don’t like the story.
Now, the fact that I don’t like the story does not mean that other people won’t like the story. It’s received great reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It should! Like I said, she’s a fantastic writer, and personal preference is totally subjective.
I’ve tried all week to push past page 100 of this book and unfortunately, I’m not digging it. Actually, this is one I’m just going to have to put down. I just cannot get through it. Here’s why (and in list form as Daisy would’ve liked it):
- Daisy is probably the most annoying character I’ve ever read. I get she has cancer at 27. I get that it’s devastating. But I kept thinking to myself: “Really? You’re mission in life is to find a new wife for your husband once your dead? Really?” Granted, I’ve never been in the cancer situation before. I am a card carrying member of the 24 year-old who had a blood clot club though – it’s not the same thing (by a long shot)- but it’s still scary. That being said, I’m not a person who likes whiners. Daisy came off as such a whiner I wanted to slap her.
- The whole I’m dying so I want to find someone to take care of my husband plot. Why do I find it annoying? Because it’s a plot from the Golden Girls. Yes, that show with Sophia, Dorothy, Blanche and Rose. The episode I’m thinking of is the episode where Sophia answered an ad. She met a guy and this woman, claiming to be his sister, followed them around on every date. The reveal? The sister was the man’s wife who was looking for another wife for her husband before she died of… cancer. This was the B story. Is that plagiarism? Hell no. Not at all! But, the story line is so similar that even by page 100, I don’t see Daisy. I see Estelle Getty’s Sophia. That’s an issue for me.
These are the two biggest issues for me as a reader. I can’t trudge past this. I’m trying folks. I really am. It’s not happening. I rarely give up on books, but.. this one…
Now, like I said, this is NOT a reflection of Oakley’s skill. Quite the contrary. For my critique of Daisy driving me up the wall with her poor-me and poor Jack nonsense, this shows Oakley’s skill at characterization. She got a reaction out of me, which is something every writer strives for. The plot issue? Well, she was able to take a familiar plot and turn it into something fresh for today’s readers. That’s pretty awesome. Plus, she had some great points where she made me laugh out loud.
Even though this review of Before I Go is fairly negative, this is one of those reviews I will tell the reader to take with a grain of salt. You, as a reader, may read it and absolutely love it. More than likely, you will love it, because so many people do. I just happen to be the one out of a hundred who don’t like it. I would actually encourage you to go buy it, read it, and give it a chance – if for no other reason, than read her style of writing. It really is excellent.