A People and US Weekly Pick
“An impressive feat…an immensely entertaining, moving, and believable read” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution), this debut novel in the bestselling tradition of P.S. I Love You revolves around 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 four 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 four 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?
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We laughed and cried our way through Before I Go, debut novelist Colleen Oakley’s tragicomic love story that beats with a warm heart and gentle humor. Daisy, a type-A psychology graduate student, is married to the scattered love of her life, Jack. As the couple come to terms with the fact that the disease they thought they’d beat has returned, we tag along for an emotional journey that will attract fans of Jojo Moyes (Me Before You) and Cecelia Ahern (PS, I Love You).
Oakley's touching debut novel follows Daisy Richmond, who beats breast cancer at age 23, marries her college sweetheart, Jack, applies to grad school, and generally moves on with her life until shortly before her four year "cancerversary" when she learns that the cancer's back. This time it's untreatable her doctor estimates she has no more than six months to live. While Daisy once found it fun to imagine all the trips she'd take if she knew her time was up, she's now more worried about what will happen to Jack after she's gone who will put his dirty socks in the hamper, arrange repairs on their fixer-upper, and make sure he eats something other than cereal. With help from her best friend, Kayleigh, Daisy begins searching for a new wife for Jack. But after scoping out dog parks, coffee bars, and dating sites, Daisy is woefully unprepared for how she feels once she actually finds a seemingly perfect woman for him and the two appear to hit it off. The story moves forward in the expected direction even the twist at the end is not a shocker but Oakley expertly tugs at the heartstrings with well-rounded characters and a liberal dose of gallows humor.
Heartbreaking and honest portrayal of a woman's emotional journey through terminal cancer
Review originally posted on Reading Books Like a Boss
Before I Go is a heartbreaking and honest portrayal of a woman's emotional journey through terminal cancer and the painful thoughts of leaving her husband behind without her. I felt so much while reading this book for all the characters. Thought-provoking, introspective and heartbreaking, Before I Go was a beautiful debut. I can't wait to see what Colleen Oakley writes next.
Daisy is a doer and list-maker. She thrives on control and order. Her husband, Jack, is her complete opposite in that regard. He leaves his socks beside the bed every night, spills Fruit Loops on the kitchen floor and doesn't pick them up. Messes don't really bother Jack. But Daisy and Jack complement each other. They work. Until Daisy's cancer comes back.
I want fifty years, and all I get is a few extra months? It's like asking your boss for a five-thousand-dollar raise and he nods and says, "I can give you ten cents."
After years of being cancer-free, twenty-seven year old Daisy receives some terrible news that her cancer is back and this time it's bad. It's all over her body and there really is nothing doctors can do to make it go away. All of the treatments offered will merely prolong her life. To cope Daisy throws herself into things that make her comfortable — things she can control. Her main focus becomes fixing up her house that she and Jack moved in knowing it was a fixer upper and making sure her husband doesn't live the rest of his life alone.
I cannot die.
I will not die.
Then I look over at Jack in the darkness. The comforter rises and falls in time with his slow breathing. And as much as I try to keep the thought at bay, push it out of my head as I stare at my sleeping husband, like a seasoned thief, it sneaks in anyway.
But what if I do?
The author takes you into their daily life with Daisy's kale smoothies and Jack's Fruit Loops and kisses on the cheek. The loving happy home that we see in the beginning of the novel, slowing begins to morph and change in the smallest imperceptible increments as Daisy begins to deal with mortality and her limited time on earth. Jack's nights at the veterinary school get longer. The two of them begin to drift apart.
So much through the book, I wanted to take Daisy aside and help her refocus her energy on things that would be more useful. But that's often a reflection of all of us. In life, we spend too much time worry and stressing about this and that instead of taking a step back and look at what we're neglecting. In Daisy's case it was her marriage. She was so focused on her end goal that she was blind to Jack's needs.
Daisy was a hard character for me to like, but I think that was the point. Her flaws, fierce independence, and determination propelled her to do a lot of things that I wouldn't do. I have to admit that I was annoyed with her character throughout the novel. I felt like her abrasive personality was almost too much, I wanted some fragility mixed in, but that came later. She constantly pushed Jack away, as she struggled with the inevitable period that the universe was placing on her time on earth. Her unending list of todos that would never get accomplished and the future of those she would leave behind weighed on her. Having witnessed her mother's long battle with depression after her father's death, she knew firsthand the effects of having someone you loved so deeply be ripped from you. She didn't want that for Jack, so she trudged forward trying to find someone for him.
Honestly, I'm torn with how I feel about this book. On one hand, I loved the progression of Daisy's character. I loved the emotions I felt in the latter half of the novel — extreme frustration, anger, sadness, happiness, relief. At times, I felt like I was having a panic attack right along with Daisy. I was so drawn into the story and her emotions. On the other hand, it took awhile for the story to gain momentum and to keep me completely engaged. But once I was hooked, I was in it all the way.
3.5 - 4 stars
* I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Before I go
Terrible book. What an awful concept that someone would waste their precious life being a selfish control freak. Not inspirational at all.
I couldn't put this book down. I loved it!