Before Now by Norah OlsonPublished by Katherine Tegen Books on December 2017
Genres: Young Adult
A harrowing and heartbreaking teen romance expertly told with a reverse timeline, Before Now is another emotionally charged novel from suspense author Norah Olson about a young couple who runs headlong into tragedy while trying to escape their complicated pasts.
The odds were against them, but somehow aspiring astronomer Atty and her troubled boyfriend, Cole, managed to escape their old lives in the rough neighborhoods of Minneapolis and the judgmental eyes of their parents, who couldn’t see that Atty and Cole were meant to be. But they don’t get away clean. Eventually the mistakes and betrayals from their pasts catch up to them. Atty is lying about why Cole is being hounded by the cops and Cole won’t go quietly to jail—or anywhere without Atty. Then the unthinkable becomes reality and the future is instantly unwritten.
Through Atty’s journal, all the intimate details of her tragic romance with Cole unfold from finish to start, including the mystery of what brought them together—and tore them apart.
Cole and Atty think they’re meant to be, even if their families don’t. Told backwards from Atty’s point of view, the story unfolds itself with love, tragedy and hope.
Sadly, I really couldn’t get into this book. Even though it’s short, (208 pages) it felt like it dragged. Atty and Cole’s relationship wasn’t fleshed out enough for me. At first I thought Cole was much older than Atty, the way he’s described at one point. (He’s not.) Then I thought maybe he was troubled for real, and not just being picked on by Atty’s dad. Nope. They’re both melodramatic teenagers, rallying against the world, with a shared suicide pact for them to be together. Oh and it’s told in reverse.
The order of the story didn’t work for me either. It felt too forced and while the opening was great, the story never grew for me. The characters’s descent into their own teenage hell didn’t move forward and while the ending was supposed to be filled with hope and possibilities, it fell flat and disjointed. The opening was so powerful, and I wanted to see Atty’s transformation after the events, but instead I got an ending that was sad and a let down.
Sure, maybe that’s just a different book I’m hoping for. The story dragged and the characters, including our two main ones, were never really expanded on. Even when one of their good friends dies (you know this before it happens because of the chronological order of the book) it doesn’t hit anywhere. It’s supposed to be this big turning moment, that propels them to run away, to be together, against all odds. The guilt, the shame, the love. But when it happens, I’m so not invested in anyone in the book I just didn’t care.
I wish I had liked it. I really liked the synopsis and the idea but it fell flat for me