Book Review: Before Ever After – Samantha Sotto

Title: Before Ever After
Author: Samantha Sotto
ISBN: 9780307719874
Pages: 304
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Publisher: Crown
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Magical Realism
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Shelley has everything she’s ever wanted out of life when she receives devastating news – her beloved husband, Max, has been killed.  Three years later, Shelley still hasn’t gotten over his death, when something amazing, yet impossible happens: a man shows up at her doorstep claiming to be her dead husband’s grandson.  It’s impossible – Max would have been just a boy when this man was born – but something about his story intrigues Shelley, and they set off to find out the truth about Max.

Review:

Before Ever After is a novel that defies expectations as you read it.  While at the beginning, it seems to be a women’s fiction novel about a young widow coming to terms with her husband’s death, it becomes apparent very quickly that the book is much more than that.  To be honest, the paranormal twist the novel has caught me off guard, to the point where I almost abandoned it because it was so strange.  I feel like if I had been more aware of the fact that there were some magical aspects to this book, I would have enjoyed it much more, which is why I wanted to warn the reader about it without spoiling too much of the plot.

The book is mainly told through flashbacks, which worked well.  It helped the reader get to know Shelley and realize that, from the beginning, there was something different about Max.  They met through a tour Max hosted, a trip across Europe where he related little known stories and helped his tourists to really see the places they were visiting.  This tour sounded really wonderful and Sotto’s descriptions were exceptionally done.  It’s a book that will give anyone reading it a bit of a travel bug, as readers will want to visit the places that Shelley sees and experiences.

Once I finally let go of all my expectations about Before Ever After and really settled into it, I enjoyed it.  Sotto’s writing style is fresh and engaging, and I love how she handled descriptions – they are vivid, but the book does not become bogged down by the details.  Additionally, the historical interludes that Max relates are fascinating.  In just a few short pages, Sotto reveals so much about the characters and their histories.  Indeed, all the characters in this novel are well developed.  It’s clear that Sotto cared about each and every one of them and wanted the reader to know them as well as she did.

I do wish I had known about Before Ever After’s paranormal aspect before reading it; I would have approached the novel differently and been able to fully appreciate it.  But once I let go of my preconceived notions and tried to fully experience it, I’m glad to say I did see the beauty of this book.  It’s well-written, engaging, and as long as you’re in the mood for something unexpected and different, it’s a great novel to pick up.

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Comments

  1. I like the travelog aspect but I’m not quite sure this would be for me. I sometimes struggle with magical realism, but there is enough going on here that it just might click.

  2. I like the travelog aspect but I’m not quite sure this would be for me. I sometimes struggle with magical realism, but there is enough going on here that it just might click.

  3. It is good to know that there are some magical elements to this book. I’m rather intrigued by them.

  4. It is good to know that there are some magical elements to this book. I’m rather intrigued by them.

  5. I really do think it’s helpful that you shared that there was a paranormal element to this book, because had I read it and not known, I may have been a little confused or annoyed. I think that knowing this even makes me more likely to want to read it. It sounds like a book that is a little different and something that I might enjoy! Great review today!

  6. I really do think it’s helpful that you shared that there was a paranormal element to this book, because had I read it and not known, I may have been a little confused or annoyed. I think that knowing this even makes me more likely to want to read it. It sounds like a book that is a little different and something that I might enjoy! Great review today!

  7. Nice! Sounds very intriguing and is one I will be looking out for.

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    Spreading the news about a great new weekly radio show called The Book Report. Book lovers will appreciate the informative reviews, author interviews and audio book previews. Check out http://bookreportradio.com for stations and times.

  8. Nice! Sounds very intriguing and is one I will be looking out for.

    ***
    Spreading the news about a great new weekly radio show called The Book Report. Book lovers will appreciate the informative reviews, author interviews and audio book previews. Check out http://bookreportradio.com for stations and times.

  9. This sounds great! Definitely adding to the ever-growing TBR pile.

    – Justice
    http://cheapblackpens.tumblr.com/

  10. This sounds great! Definitely adding to the ever-growing TBR pile.

    – Justice
    http://cheapblackpens.tumblr.com/

  11. I agree this book was a little weird for me at first too but once I got into it I really enjoyed it!

  12. I agree this book was a little weird for me at first too but once I got into it I really enjoyed it!

  13. I can’t make up my mind about this book… I am curious about it, but on the other hand I am not so sure it is for me…

  14. I can’t make up my mind about this book… I am curious about it, but on the other hand I am not so sure it is for me…

  15. Anonymous says:

    I really appreciate the book. I almost pitied Max after learning that he’s immortal, of course he has been left by the person he loves. Anyway, I’m happy by how the story ends…

  16. Anonymous says:

    I really appreciate the book. I almost pitied Max after learning that he’s immortal, of course he has been left by the person he loves. Anyway, I’m happy by how the story ends…

  17. i have read the book and it was worth it..i read a wide variety of genres so i am used to leaving any expectations behind. but this still surprised me in a very good way. i love it!

  18. i have read the book and it was worth it..i read a wide variety of genres so i am used to leaving any expectations behind. but this still surprised me in a very good way. i love it!

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