"Before I Saw You" is a powerhouse of a book. The author, who is also a nurse, has seen the frontlines of America's opiod crisis, which she brings to life in a heartbreakingly beautiful way. You can't help but hope for the best for the characters involved, but like all things in the real world, you expect struggle.
And struggle, Jaycee does. From the beginning of the novel, the heroine finds herself facing a mother who is an addict and a dealer, a younger brother that suffers neglect from everyone else but Jaycee, and a life that leaves her hoping for better things to come. After a family tragedy lands her mother in prison, Jaycee must survive on her own, working at the local diner and helping her neighbor Sudie with injured wildlife in her spare moments. She's also acquired a boyfriend who treats her terribly and has her stuck in a cycle of abuse. But those things are about to change when the new EMT, Gabe, comes to Riverton. As an outsider who chooses to work in the community, Gabe also takes on a part time job at the diner where Jaycee works, and sparks fly. Jaycee finds herself attracted to Gabe in a way she never expected. As the months go on, however, she realizes she's pregnant by her abusive ex boyfriend, Bryan. How will Jaycee face this new challenge, all on her own? What will she do about the baby?
I was moved by the way the community relationships act as a surrogate family for Jaycee once her mother enters prison and thereafter. I was reminded that, the way it's supposed to be, community is an asset that can fill in the holes left from dysfunction.
This novel was an emotional rollercoaster, and I found myself weeping no less than four times throughout the book. If you're looking for a lighthearted read, this one is not it. However, if you're not afraid to be drawn into a story that will pull at your heart, inform your knowledge of tough subjects such as domestic violence, addiction, neglect, infant loss, adoption and what makes a family(blood ties or community), grief and the struggle to understand personal faith, this book is for you. I found the references to faith handled delicately and honestly, not judgemental or preachy at all.
My only complaint could be that because the author is a nurse by profession, there were several times when I felt the medical terminology sounded a bit too clinical. However, this often seemed appropriate by the character who was using said terminology (nurse, EMT, etc) for their jobs. Other than the fact that it made me cry more than expected, Jaycee's story is one that is real, honest and could be happening right now to many young women in our country. I look forward to seeking out more of Amy's novels.
- Library Binding: 413 pages
- Publisher: Thorndike Pr; Large Print edition (25 July 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1432852922
- ISBN-13: 978-1432852924
- Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 581 g
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