Review: Before I Go

January 28, 2015 book review, cancer, death, debut novel, fiction, Gallery Books 5


Before I Go


  • Written By:  Colleen Oakley
  • Published By:  Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, January 6, 2015
  • Length:  320 pages
  • Source:  Publisher sent me copy of the book for review consideration

Summary:  A heart-wrenching debut novel in the bestselling tradition of P.S. I Love You about a young woman with breast cancer who undertakes a mission to find a new wife for her husband before she passes away.

Twenty-seven-year-old Daisy already beat breast cancer three years ago. How can this be happening to her again?

On the eve of what was supposed to be a triumphant “Cancerversary” with her husband Jack to celebrate three years of being cancer-free, Daisy suffers a devastating blow: her doctor tells her that the cancer is back, but this time it’s an aggressive stage four diagnosis. She may have as few as four months left to live. Death is a frightening prospect—but not because she’s afraid for herself. She’s terrified of what will happen to her brilliant but otherwise charmingly helpless husband when she’s no longer there to take care of him. It’s this fear that keeps her up at night, until she stumbles on the solution: she has to find him another wife.

With a singular determination, Daisy scouts local parks and coffee shops and online dating sites looking for Jack’s perfect match. But the further she gets on her quest, the more she questions the sanity of her plan. As the thought of her husband with another woman becomes all too real, Daisy’s forced to decide what’s more important in the short amount of time she has left: her husband’s happiness—or her own?

My Thoughts:  From page one Daisy is a character I fell in love with.  My heart went out to her, she’s young and she’s already battled breast cancer once.  When she learns that her cancer markers are up, she knows cancer is back in her body and she has the requisite tests to determine where, and how much. She’s shocked, numb when she learns how badly her cancer has returned.  As she begins to tell her husband, mom and friends she realizes that with very little time left she doesn’t want her very young, vital husband to be alone.

Given a definitive amount of time left to live I think most people will first be in shock, and then determine how to spend that time.  Daisy’s choice to look for a life mate for Jack is unique.  I don’t think it would have been mine.  There are funny scenes with Daisy and her best friend Kayleigh in coffee shops and dog parks, checking out women, potential mates for Jack.  Jack is in Vet school, almost done.  They’ve both been on a busy trajectory of finishing grad schools and moving forward with their lives.  Slowly after Daisy begins to accept that “Lots of Cancer” is in her body, she feel as though she and Jack are slipping apart instead of holding on to each other for what little time she has left.  Her anger, partially self imagined, has her making choices that cut Jack out of her treatment plan.  She’s jealous if his work, his simple ability to leave the house and be busy, engage with other people, and also a budding friendship with a beautiful single woman, with animals Jack appears to be helping. How can she stop this feeling of being alone, and open her heart to let Jack in?

I cried in parts of this book, big gulping tears as I read more about where Daisy’s diagnosis was taking her.  I’ve known too many friends with breast cancer, and it’s metastases. Colleen Oakley has crafted a story that is so familiar and yet her characters behave in ways that are both human and unique.  Oakley makes Daisy real, as she is feeling sick, tired, frustrated and we come to realize that Daisy is missing little things around her that those who love her are doing to show that they care.  From the nosey neighbor to the overwrought mother, the concerned friend and the confused husband, all the people surrounding her do care, but in their own way. There are also uplifting, laugh out loud funny moments in the book, and eventually while not a necessarily happy ending, Daisy does find a place of happiness and comfort.

I enjoyed this book very much, if that can be said of a book that makes you cry.  It’s well written with very fleshed out characters and an honesty that makes me happy to be healthy, and a friend to those who may be suffering.  Highly recommend.

You can learn more about Colleen Oakley on her website, Facebook and twitter.


5 Responses to “Review: Before I Go”

  1. Heather

    ” A heart-wrenching debut novel in the bestselling tradition of P.S. I Love You about a young woman with breast cancer who undertakes a mission to find a new wife for her husband before she passes away.”

    OMG THIS SOUNDS LIKE THE SADDEST THING EVER. I’ll save this for when I need one of those great cleansing cries.

  2. View From My Home

    I will be on the lookout for this one. At first I wasn’t sure if I could handle a book with this topic as my husband had cancer last year, but he is currently “clean” so I think that it would be wrong to discount what could be a great experience because of that reason. Thanks for a wonderful review!

  3. Lindsey

    This sounds like one of those books that could be cheesy but instead really conveys emotion well. Thanks for a great review!

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