Thursday, March 9, 2023

Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan

Rating: 3 of 5 stars 
Pages: 400 pages
Published: November 2022

Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan is a romance novel, but it’s not your typical romance novel. Yes, there are some steamy, blush-worthy scenes (that I didn’t necessarily have to read), but the book is so much more than a couple of romps in the hay. The story is about an affluent Black couple living in an Atlanta suburb who experience devastating loss that tests their relationship as lovers, spouses, and parents. One loss leads to another which fractures their marriage, but just when they think all hope is lost a night of passion makes them both question the major decisions made in the midst of grief. 

I enjoyed a lot of things about this book. I enjoyed the characters and the way most of them were presented - as just a normal family trying to live out their dreams. I appreciated the academic success that was attributed to the son. I admired the entrepreneurial spirit of the leading couple. Overall, I felt as though I could relate to these characters. They could be my neighbors or people in my circle. 

Having said that, this is not my favorite read of the year. It took me forever to get through this book. It was the only novel I was able to complete in March because I just couldn’t sit down and knock it out. I do wonder if the author purposefully wrote the book this way to help the reader experience the lengthy feeling and waves of grief or if she could have benefitted from some heavier editing. Additionally, I was a bit disappointed in the physical or “romance” aspect of the book. It seems like the main characters were more concerned about having sex than truly working through their issues with each other. I also didn’t understand the Biblical scripture added in at the last chapter when the none of the characters were presented as religious. It just seemed like a careless, incongruent afterthought. Lastly, I found the relationship between the mother and daughter to be wholly unrealistic. 

The bright spot in this book is the emphasis on mental health and continually seeking professional help until you find the right counselor for you. I think this “character” (mental health) is an important aspect, especially because the main characters are African American and oftentimes seeing a therapist is deemed unnecessary in our community. 

This is the first book in a series featuring the neighborhood, Skyland, that the couple lives in. I am hopeful in future books the author will explore more relationship development between the couple and further character development of some of the secondary characters (e.g., children, girlfriend circle, etc.) 

Recommendation: If I said it once, I’ve said it 100 times; not every book is for everyone. This one was just ‘eh’ for me. I am glad I read it. I am glad I participated in the author talk with my online book club, but I don’t think I’ll be picking up the remaining books in the series. After attending the Zoom-based author talk, I find her quite delightful and wish her the best in her voracious writing career!  

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


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