Before I submit my review for Before I Go by Colleen Oakley, I have a dislaimer. I probably shouldn’t be reading this book right now. I just found out a dear friend has esophogeal cancer and she starts her radiation treatments today. She beat breast cancer thirty years ago, and lived to see her children graduate from college, her main bucket list item at the time. Grandchildren have been a bonus. The future is uncertain.
That’s why I’m not sure if I want to face a story featuring the trauma of a young couple dealing with a reoccurrence of breast cancer. Yet, this book is beautifully written. From the first page we are vested in the lives of brave, loving, overly-neat Daisy and tall, handsome, but oh-so-sloppy Jack Richmond. They become our instant friends. We also admire the loyalty of quirky best friend Kayleigh and wish that all doctors were like kindly Dr Saunders. Unfortunately, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Terrible things beyond our control. Things such as cancer.
Daisy is a joiner, but she doesn’t want to be a part of this “cancer club”, not again. Unfortunately, cancer is not a choice and Daisy must find a way to accept the reality of her situation. Colleen Oakley covers this topic sensitively with a bit of humor injected into a taboo subject. How does one deal with an expiration date on one’s life? Colleen takes us on Daisy’s path through the various stages of grief including numerous incidents where she understandably loses control over her emotions and behaviors. Over the years I have known several women in similar situations. Daisy’s final days are believable and touching. Her courage and humility shine through the bad moments. Yet, this book isn’t about death, it’s about the journey. Daisy has one last goal to complete. Out of her love for Jack, she sets out to locate the perfect second wife to take over when she is gone. Someone to make sure his socks don’t pile up on the floor. Someone to keep him from being lonely. Finding a replacement, though, is not easy and provides some necessary comic relief from a naturally intense subject. Daisy’s stumbling attempts eventually lead to an enlightenment between the young couple. In the final chapter, told by Jack, we catch a glimpse of hope for the future and the reader is grateful to have been allowed to tag along for the ride.
A great first novel and I look forward to reading more books by this author. Next time I hope my purchase doesn’t require an entire box of tissues. Four stars!
I’d like to thank Gallery Books and Netgalley for allowing me a free download of this book in exchange for an honest review.