Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Moment Before - Suzy Vitello

Source: Netgalley
Pages: 216

Synopsis: Sisters, Brady and Sabine Wilson are sisters born eleven months apart. However, despite their closeness in age, they are entirely different to one another. Sabine is popular, the head cheerleader with a popular boyfriend. Brady is alternatively artsy, quieter and fades frequently into the shadows of her older sister.
All is turned upside down when Sabine dies in a horrific cheerleading accident and Brady's life is suddenly full of heartbreak and grief. The only person she finds who can help her find out exactly what happened around Sabine's death is the guy, Connor, everyone blames for her death.

Review: My first thought after I read the first few pages was 'Oh, well this has been done before'. With a synopsis similar to that of Undone by Cat Clarke, Saving June by Hannah Harrington and The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher, I was expected a tale of grief, anger, infidelity and ultimately, revenge.

However, I was at once drawn into the story particularly to Brady and her quest to find out the back story in the wake of her sister's death ending in suddenly finishing this book within a couple of days. While many of these kind of novels focus on suicide and revenge, this account was largely far more accurate in Brady's curiousity of the circumstances of the death as well as illustrating a family that is entirely broken yet haven't given up on the hope that they can get over this all.

I loved the way THE MOMENT BEFORE was written with this harsh, unemotional and critical narrative from Brady that truly describes one way in which people can deal with grief. While her fellow school friends are celebrating her sister's life and achievements, she is critical of the memorials they set up which ultimately perhaps will not be lasting. I just loved how real the narrative sounded. While the characters are typical characters in this genre, Brady's negativity and cynicism just brought another touch of realness and enjoyment for me.

I was loving this book, until I reached the end. For me, the ending was a real let down. I got to about 95% through the book and started to wonder how on earth this was going to end in that last 5%. Once I reached the last page, I realised how. The ending is entirely too melodramatic, too quick and rushed. It felt like Vitello felt there needed to be this massive conclusion, that seemed completely out of character to me, to complete the whole circle of the narrative yet this needed to be done quickly and not describing entirely that well in comparison to the whole novel. Considering I liked the book because of its touch of reality shed over this situation, I felt so disappointed and confused that she chose to have an ending that contrasted so drastically to the rest of the novel. If the book was largely dramatic, this ending would have fitted but this book was far from that and that's what made it so brilliant in my eyes. As I read in a review in Goodreads, there were so many questions suddenly and it seemed that most of actions in the ending were out of character for the characters involved. This may have been done on purpose, but I don't think it was needed.

Overall, THE MOMENT BEFORE is largely enjoyable despite the fact its the kind of narrative done frequently before. I didn't find it repetitive. It wasn't all about suicide, death and grief. While that was a small element of the story, this book is so much more and a nice addition to this genre.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

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