Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book Review: Before I Say Goodbye by Rachel Ann Nunes (Whitney Finalist)

Title: Before I Say Goodbye
Author: Rachel Ann Nunes
Enjoyment Rating: 6/10
Referral: Whitney Finalist
Source: Library Copy
Books I've read this year: 26

Back in the day, Rikki and Dante were best friends growing up in Spanish Fork, Utah, dragging Main on Friday nights (Nunes doesn't actually say this, but I imagine that every high school kid in SF has done this at least once, especially wild-child Rikki). They were drawn to each other because they both grew up in dysfunctional households, which set them apart from all the perfect they saw around them. But when Dante decided to go on a mission, Rikki skipped town and didn't come back for 20 years.

When she did come back she had two kids and a brain tumor. You might say that I'm ruining the book for you, but I could tell by the end of the first chapter that she was sick (she takes pills by the handful and mysteriously talks about "not being around" for her kids). So she's come home to reconnect with Dante (now the Bishop, married to a nearly-perfect woman with four kids), and find a place for her children to go once she's gone.

There were a lot of things to like about Before I Say Goodbye. First of all, I think Nunes does a nice job telling the story from multiple points of view. There are times when it feels like some of the characters sound too much alike, but in general, she differentiates between them nicely. Secondly, the Mormons in the book aren't necessarily cookie-cutter Mormons. The kids fight. Dante and Becca's relationship isn't perfect. But they do ultimately make good decisions, even heroic ones.

On the other hand, Dante and Becca sometimes bugged me. I felt that they were stifling as parents, with their constant threats to ground their kids, and everyone did, ultimately make the heroic choices. I also felt that there was no surprises with the plot. From the beginning of the book, I knew what would happen, and it did happen.

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