Before I begin, let’s take a moment to celebrate the incredible accomplishment that is Colleen’s Launch Day! As authors, we only get one Debut day, so let’s make the most of it.
No one does insane glee like Oprah!
I’ll admit, when I read the description for Colleen’s book, I was a little skeptical. A cancer book. That’s all I saw. Another cancer book. So, dear reader, let me be very clear. This is not just another cancer book to be dismissed. Yes, the cancer part is important, but it’s more about the internal crazy that happens when confronted with an insurmountable obstacle and how Daisy, the hyper-organized main character, choses to deal with it. Equal parts devastating and funny, BEFORE I GO is an honest look at the different ways people deal with terminal illness. It will make you laugh between sobs. Publishers Weekly’s review called it “gallows humor,” and I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s fair to equate it to John Green’s THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (yeah, I said it) in many ways–especially the authentic ways her character finds the funny in her situation.
For me, what really separated this from other books is Colleen’s whip-smart wordplay. She can craft lines so pure and effective I had to pause and say “fuuuuck.” (Sorry for the crass language.) Writers know what I’m talking about, but here’s a translation for non-writers: OMG, that is an awesome sentence, I with I had wrote that sentence. I am a writer hack and she is brilliant. I am equal parts jealous and happy that I know someone so talented.
So, here are five of my favorites with a few words on what I especially liked.
1. Then his eyes make contact with mine and I see that they’re sad, They’re sad in the way that other people’s eyes are blue or brown or green. Dr. Saunders’ eyes are the color of sad.
I like when authors give attributes to unexpected things, like describing a food as having a sound. Ex: This egg salad sandwich tastes like a funeral dirge played on recorders by tone-deaf four-year olds. I love the idea of eyes being the color of sad – we can all picture exactly what that looks like.
2. And it occurs to me if I were to write a “Coping with Terminal Cancer” pamphlet, this is what I would cover. Not the obvious stuff about anger and bargaining, but the ridiculous moments like crying over bodice rippers in a suburban strip mall at 10 A.M. on a Monday morning.
This is exactly what I love about BEFORE I GO, even while handling a sad topic, Colleen finds the humor. It’s the details that made me love this sentence: the bodice rippers, the time, the specific location.
3. I do want him to find a wife and I even hope he’ll be able to find that joy again, on another wedding day in the future. But I also secretly hope that while that day will be lovely and warm and good, that it’s not quite as bright as the sun that once shone down on a girl and boy kissing on the hot brick steps of a courthouse on a Friday afternoon in July.
Maybe it will rain.
While this is lovely, it’s the honesty of the final sentence that brings it home.
4. I know I’m just a tornado of emotions and Kayleigh happened to be in the path of my storm.
This is just a fantastic image.
5. It’s something I would have told Daisy late at night right before I turned off the light to go to sleep. As an aside, so she didn’t think I was really worried about it. Or that I thought it was a big deal.
Here’s another moment that captures perfectly the truth of marriage, a tiny glimpse at how a married couple communicates. I gasped (between sobs) a little because I do this, too.
So, dear reader, I hope my favorite lines grabbed your attention as much as they did mine. For more info and links to the many places you can purchase Colleen’s heartbreaking/warming book, check out her Goodreads page. You don’t want to miss this one!
One last gif, just because I love this.
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