Also published under the title “Before You Go“
“Predictions and nightmares, Dell often said, have exactly as much power as we give them and no more.”
The story flips back and forth between 1990 and 1991 with some back references to 1979.
Adella Shaw, our protagonist is the daughter of an estranged couple. Her father is loving but has distanced himself from his family by his addiction to prescription painkillers. Her beautiful mother who has left the family home, is selfish, aloof, and vain. She didn’t come to motherhood easily and insists Della call her Anita instead of Mom. When the teenage Dell is in her company, she introduces her as her younger sister.
Dell has an older brother, Scott, who now works on the town’s police force.
A traumatic incident in her early teens has scarred Dell’s psyche. She does her best to remain aloof, but when she does fall in love, she falls hard – and with the wrong person…
I have never read anything by Kelly Heard before, but this book has ascertained that I will search her work out in the future.
The writing was eloquent and I enjoyed the imagery. “The bruise on her temple didn’t look like an injury so much as some inner rottenness that had finally crept to her surface, like a soft spot on an apple.”
The Virginian Blue Ridge Mountains setting set the mood and the tone for the novel. The sometimes cloying aspect of small town America is evident – with all the pluses and minuses that that entails.
“People only wrote in ink with their lives here, and people talked before the ink dried.”
The protagonist, Dell, was a solitary, heartbroken, and heartbreaking woman who had received little maternal love in her life and therefore thought she couldn’t provide that love to her own child. The reader (and those characters she comes into contact with) can’t help but feel for her, even though she tries her darndest to remain aloof and self-sufficient.
This book reminds us that family and love comes in all shapes and sizes. That is is okay to need other people, and that motherhood is an inherent skill that most come by naturally. That loneliness, when chosen, can be a penance too great to pay.
I highly recommend this novel to all those who enjoy women’s fiction that expounds on family and motherhood, while telling a love story that is neither saccharine nor unrealistic.
4.5 stars rounded up for NetGalley, Amazon, and GoodreadsThis review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Bookouture via NetGalley.
ISBN: 9781838880057 ASIN: B07W6P1K7H 290 pages
Originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, Kelly Heard now lives in Richmond with her husband, spoiled house cat, and three-year-old daughter. She writes poetry, adult fiction, and creative nonfiction. When she is not writing or reading, Kelly enjoys spending her time gardening, cooking, and playing the ukulele for her toddler.
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