Sunday, September 17, 2017

Book Review: 'Before I Go' by Colleen Oakley

Twenty-seven year old Daisy Richmond is caring, organized (she makes to-do lists), and devoted to her husband, Jack, a veterinarian-in-training. The couple lives in a ramshackle house in Athens, Georgia. Daisy is taking graduate courses towards her master's degree, hoping to become a community counselor. However, her future is far from assured. She had breast cancer at twenty-three and finished her course of treatment, but there is no guarantee that she will be able to beat this aggressive disease.

Colleen Oakley's "Before I Go" could have been maudlin, but the first-time novelist wisely keeps the narrative's tone as light as possible. Daisy is bright, insightful, and funny. She is so unselfish that she embarks on a project to find a suitable second wife for Jack, just in case. Her plan is that if "she goes," her spouse will have someone solicitous, affectionate, and competent to take care of him. Daisy receives help from her flaky best friend, Kayleigh, her sounding board and confidante since childhood.

The author takes us on a poignant and heart-wrenching journey with Daisy, who tries to stay positive throughout her ordeal. Her mission to find the right woman for Jack does not go as smoothly as she had hoped. Moreover, even if she were to succeed in her unusual quest, is she ready to let go of Jack? Oakley's prose and dialogue flow smoothly, and the plot is beautifully paced; the author strikes just the right balance between humor and pathos. "Before I Go" is an engrossing exploration of the unpredictability of life and the complexity of human relationships.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right

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