Title: THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE
Author: Ali Standish
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publish Date: January 24, 2017
Ethan had been many things. He was always ready for adventure and always willing to accept a dare, especially from his best friend, Kacey. But that was before. Before the accident that took Kacey from him. Before his family moved from Boston to the small town of Palm Knot, Georgia.
Palm Knot may be tiny, but it’s the home of possibility and second chances. It’s also home to Coralee, a girl with a big personality and even bigger stories. Coralee may be just the friend Ethan needs, except Ethan isn’t the only one with secrets. Coralee’s are catching up with her, and what she’s hiding might be putting both their lives at risk.
My mind is still reeling and my heart is still feeling fuzzy from finishing this wonderful MG read. This book has so many aspects I love in a story: complex characters, setting as a character, mystery, secrets, a little spooky, humor, sadness, love, healing.
Standish writes Ethan so spot-on with what I imagine he would be in real life. This boy has been through something so tragic, but she strings us on wanting to know what exactly happens without frustrating us as a reader. Ethan has voice without being untrue to his experiences and issues, and his growth and struggles made me feel so much! His family were also very well-written and I found myself rooting for them and aching in the way their lives were falling apart and being put back together.
As soon as Coralee entered the story it was like a spotlight illuminated her everywhere she was. I love her, and I loved her and Ethan and their adventures together even more. The way they lean on each other, hide from each other, and reveal each other’s true selves was so special. I was captivated by this duo.
And Grandpa Ike. I just want to hug him and his own secrets.
So many secrets, guys! But it’s all worth it in the end as Standish meticulously pieces it all together and shows us all of the hard and beautiful parts of life. I love and admire when an author can write about hard things but make it about more than that hard thing.
I can’t recommend this book enough and have put Ali Standish on my must read list for any future stories she writes.