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Monday, August 4, 2014
ARC Review: Before You by Amber Hart
From the beginning, the reader understands that there are two sides to Faith. The one she puts on for the outside world and her family and the one that is true to herself. However she never really gets to be herself except with her best friend, Melissa who really knows her. Faith is the good girl, she dates the high school quarterback, she wears tasteful clothes. And everyone thinks she went on a mission trip her junior year. But only Faith and Melissa know the truth. Her live is thrown for a loop the first day of senior year when in walks Diego Alvarez. Diego is a boy who has just moved to the area from Cuba. A boy that couldn’t be more different from Faith. He’s covered with tattoos, but yet he’s mannerly, he’s tough but gentle. Faith is assigned to be his peer mentor for the first few days to help acclimate him to the school. Thing is, he doesn’t want her around or does he? Faith will do her job but she finds herself strangely attracted to something about Diego and that attraction has her wanting to break out of her box.
The characters are fascinating in this book. Faith on the surface is the very prim and proper uptight popular girl, but things come out through the book that show she has a different side. Diego has come from Cuba and was once involved in things he shouldn’t have been, but it was the only way to survive. So he and his father have come to America to start a new life. But Diego is unsure about this new life, feels out-of-place and even more out-of-place as his attraction to Faith grows.
The majority of the book deals with the background of the two main characters and their close friends and family. It also deals with the forbidden romance aspect of Faith being an upper/middle class white girl in this Florida town and Diego being a Cuban with a questionable background. There are of course bigots and there is fear of the relationship on both sides. But as time passes both find that though it is hard, it isn’t as hard as they thought or at least the difficulties might be worth it if they have found true love together.
A lot of issues are dealt with or at least brought up in Before You and it fascinated me. First and foremost there was the interracial relationship issue. Every area is different so I understand that this is a topic that some people feel strongly about, while in my area it doesn’t seem to be a big deal. Another issue that is just touched on is strictness of a church over stupid things. Faith’s father is a pastor and there are some issues in their church that bother Faith. I loved the fact that they bothered her father as well. This issue I could relate well with. How sometimes a congregation can call the shots too much and really turn others off to a church. And finally there is the issue of being a teenager and trying to be two different people. One to please your parents and other adults and one that is more true to yourself (especially when it is one that really does no harm to yourself or to others). What teenager or even an adult can’t relate to that one? I felt the issues were handled great and interwoven so well into the story that the reader wouldn’t feel like they were being shoved in their face. The issues were left mostly open-ended so the reader could make their own decision, yet the author made her points gently and well.
With an interesting love story, characters that grew and changed through the book, issues to be worked out and even some action and suspense, I found Before You to be a quick and thought-provoking read. It is definitely a book that will stick with you for some time leaving you thinking about the issues and the characters long after you finish itl. I can’t wait to see more of Faith and Diego in the follow-up book, After Us, which will emphasize the relationship of a different couple introduced in this book and should be another enthralling read.
**ARC provided by NetGalley**
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