Before I Let Go

For Corey, Lost Creek, Alaska, population 246, is home. Reachable only by tiny plane or a single road and "[s]urrounded by nothing for miles," the members of the community are kept company by only "each other and the deep blue of twilight."

Corey fit perfectly into the framework of Lost, where "unpredictability has never been good." Her best friend Kyra, though, made the people of Lost nervous. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Kyra had manic episodes in which she "could lose herself in the woods for days." Although Kyra mostly maintains herself through mania by painting, the people of Lost are convinced she's dangerous. At least, that's how it was seven months ago, when Corey left Lost to attend boarding school. The two best friends lost touch--Kyra sent letters, Corey didn't respond--and now Kyra is dead.

Corey flies back to Lost, desperate to find out what happened to her friend, assuming the worst. But things have changed. The town now speaks about Kyra with something akin to adoration. "Lost gave her purpose," Kyra's mother tells Corey. "It set her heart and mind alight." Corey, on the other hand, is being treated like an outsider and a traitor. She has only five days before her flight leaves to figure out what happened: Why is the town speaking about Kyra as though she were a prophet? Was it suicide--or murder? And how are fresh salmonberry flowers blooming in the middle of January?

The claustrophobic, dark setting--along with disembodied voices, cultish townspeople and whispers of the supernatural--gives Before I Let Go a foreboding and intensely creepy feel. Short chapters and temporal switches hurtle this subtly terrifying mystery along, leaving readers as disturbed and desperate for answers as the frightened protagonist. --Siân Gaetano, editor children's and YA, Shelf Awareness

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