On My Bookshelf: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

November 11, 2019

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp centers around the guilt Corey feels after her best friend's suicide, explores the stigma around mental health issues, and includes elements of magical realism. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town's lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she's a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter...

Why I liked it: Before I Let Go is dark like her first novel, This Is Where It Ends, though slightly less unsettling. The novel centers around the guilt Corey feels after her best friend's suicide, explores the stigma around mental health issues, and includes elements of magical realism. It is unclear at times what is real versus imagined by the main character.

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp centers around the guilt Corey feels after her best friend's suicide, explores the stigma around mental health issues, and includes elements of magical realism. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The main character is exploring a best friend’s suicide after a period of separation similar to She Was Here by Gayle Forman. Corey suffers from survivor guilt, but also all of the what ifs in their strained friendship.

Kyra was diagnosed as bipolar, but the medications she was prescribed were not effective and her therapist recommended more serious treatment unavailable in the small town in Alaska where Kyra lived, largely cut off from the rest of the world. Her parents withheld her medication and refused to let Kyra seek additional help because of the amazing art she produced during her manic periods.

After being pushed away for so long, Kyra was at first happy to feel wanted by the townspeople, but quickly realized it was her art, not her that people were interested in. Her art predict a happier future, so the town, particularly her father would not let her leave. She fell through the ice after a failed attempt at running away. Everyone watched her die and no one interceded because her death had been foretold in one of her own paintings.

Classroom application: Because of the dark content, I would recommend this one for high school and up. After reading it would be interesting for students to research the connection between witches of the past and the mentally ill.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Before I Let Go for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp centers around the guilt Corey feels after her best friend's suicide, explores the stigma around mental health issues, and includes elements of magical realism. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

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