Kim’s Review of Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

bigcoA few years ago I read a novel entitled The Replacement Wife. It had a similar premise to this one: a woman with cancer searches for a replacement spouse for her husband. This entire idea intrigues me because I feel like if I were to become terminally ill, my first thought would be for my spouse and his future well-being and happiness. The Replacement Wife turned out to be one of the worst books I’ve ever read, and generally made me nervous to read any novel with a similar plot line in the future. For some reason when I heard about Before I Go by Colleen Oakley something niggled in my brain to give it a chance and I’m so glad that I did. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year to date.

Plot from Goodreads:

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 Jsack 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?

When starting out reading a book like thisyou have to prepare yourself for the tumultuous ride of emotions you’ll be taken on. Before I Go was one of the most heart-achingly beautiful journeys I’ve ever had the pleasure (and privilege) of reading. In a way the book isn’t about a specific plot, but more about the emotional journeys that the characters take with themselves as well as each other.

Front and center is Daisy. Cancer survivor patient. Wife. Best friend. Worrier. Keeper of socks. She puts forth great effort in making sure her charming husband eats, has clean clothes, and exists socially outside of work. She worries that when her cancer wins he’ll be devastated and defeated. Her single most important job and function becomes finding him a new partner. Little does she realize that undertaking this quest will shake and test the very foundations of her marriage (and also her friendship with BFF Kayleigh). Daisy’s attempts to be stoic, strong, and self-sufficient backfire. Her inability to let Jack see how weak the cancer is making her and how much his comfort would give her strength pushes him away from her. He ultimately stops pushing her, which in turn begins to make her anxious and doubtful that finding him a new wife would solve everything. This back-and-forth emotional tug of war will have you crying, laughing, and learning from beginning to end. And while Daisy eventually figures out that it’s ok to grieve for yourself, it’s not ok to let that grief make the grief of your loved ones any less important.

Through Daisy, Oakley teaches us extremely valuable lessons. Live your life to the fullest. Spend time with the people you love. Do things that make you happy. Life offers us no guarantees. We never know which day will be our last, so live up to the potential every day offers. Oakley’s masterful and emotional storytelling will have you recommending this book to everyone and adding her to your favorite author lists in quick succession.

5 out of 5 Stars

Special thanks to Gallery Books for my review copy via Netgalley!

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley
Gallery Books (2015)
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN: 9781476761664

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16 thoughts on “Kim’s Review of Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

  1. I’m sure it’s an interesting book, The Replacement Wife.But for me, reading a story like that would depress me. I actually read P.S. I Love You about a decade ago when I was a preteen. While I thought it was sad that her husband died, I was glad the wife found herself.

  2. I remember my late husband and I talking along similar lines when we were first married, but when he died in 1989, and though I was thirteen years his junior, I never found anyone to replace the love of my life.

  3. Kim, I am a blogger, and this is my first time following a blog. Thank you for your splendid review on this book! I am an avid reader, and I love suggestions. I have added Before I Go to my summer reading list.

  4. Hi. I’ve heard about this book because your review I’ll give ita chance. Congratulations for this wonderful blog and will come back times to read it. I am a brazilian, so if I wrote any grammar mistake, disregard it because I am learning english.
    Best wishes!

  5. Oh dear! I find your review so beautifully written that I am tempted to read the book. This is the exact scenario in which I find myself saying “I will read it”, which is when it all goes wrong! I am so uncommitted to commitment I dare say it will merely join the ever-growing list of books I have promised to read! I must say you do sell books with your passion-laced words! May I say that you sound like just the kind of person to be interested in my new idea (a sort of online book ‘club’). Give it a thought! If you fancy it, hop over to my blog (it’s all explained in ‘Bank Holiday Book Binge’) or drop me an email at acharlottething@gmail.com! Good wishes being sent your way!

  6. Thanks for the beautifully written book review. I will add this to my ever-growing TBR pile. I love P.S. I Love you, but this sounds a bit different. This sounds like such a strong and interesting character to read about. I’m looking forward to it!

  7. This reminded me of a great quote I sometimes use as an email signature file.

    “When I was going through my divorce,” Tom said, “and people asked me how I was, I used to say, ‘Rock bottom, thank you,’ and they’d look really offended. It’s a social obligation to be fine, isn’t it, otherwise you’re a nuisance.”

    -Other People’s Children by Joanna Trollope

  8. Pingback: Kim’s Review of Before I Go by Colleen Oakley | pjbyerwriterblog

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