Title: Before You (Before & After #1)
Author: Amber Hart
Genre: Contemporary YA Romance
|Some say love is deadly. Some say love is beautiful. I say it is both.
Faith Watters spent her junior year traveling the world, studying in exquisite places, before returning to Oviedo High School. From the outside her life is picture-perfect. Captain of the dance team. Popular. Happy. Too bad it’s all a lie.It will haunt me. It will claim me. It will shatter me. And I don’t care.Eighteen-year-old Diego Alvarez hates his new life in the States, but staying in Cuba is not an option. Covered in tattoos and scars, Diego doesn’t stand a chance of fitting in. Nor does he want to. His only concern is staying hidden from his past—a past, which if it were to surface, would cost him everything. Including his life.
At Oviedo High School, it seems that Faith Watters and Diego Alvarez do not belong together. But fate is as tricky as it is lovely. Freedom with no restraint is what they long for. What they get is something different entirely.
Love—it will ruin you and save you, both.
You know those books that really get under your skin? Before You is definitely one of those. It kept me engrossed from the very first page right through to the end and I just know I love this book!
Being Faith Watters means embodying perfection. As the daughter of the town pastor, Faith has to be perfect in all possible ways — at school, with her boyfriend, among her “friends”, in the church community. Sounds pretty lame, right? I do have to admit, too, that I was a little bit sceptical about her character at first, as well as the concept of the story in general: The synopsis reminded me too much of that of the Perfect Chemistry series by Simone Elkeles and Faith appeared to be pretty shallow. But let me tell you: Faith is actually one of the most three-dimensional characters I have ever met (and so is the whole book!). I really liked how much she grows throughout the story, how she comes to realize that she does not have to live her life behind the perfect mask, that people will still love her despite her flaws and mistakes.
Since her mother abandoned her family, Faith has sworn not to let any person too close to herself again — hence her life behind that perfect facade. And this all crumbles down when she meets cocky and badass Diego Alvarez. I just could not wait for this moment, to see her just being herself, but I also grew to admire her for her selflessness and authenticity.
Diego Alvarez turned out to be a really fun and interesting character. Having grown up in Cuba and being an ex-gang member, Diego has sworn to leave his past behind, but also not to expect too much for his future — until he meets Faith. The moment they meet each other for the first time, you just know they are the right person for each other. You are just waiting for the moment where they will show their true colors; their chemistry was amazingly perfect. I loved everything about their relationship: Their mutual understanding as well as the strength in their love. And I especially enjoyed reading those passages where Diego teases Faith! Firstly, because of…well, their seemingly different personalities at the beginning. It was like a clash between a – pardon me – jerk and a prudish nun and this had proved a recipe for extremely amusinng conversations. Secondly, because of that awkward, yet funny and totally amusing cutural clash. It is inpiring to see how their relationship survives (up to a certain point relatvely mild) racism, danger and loss.
Also, the “secondary characters” were so not secondary. I loved everything about Melissa, Faith’s best friend. She is actually the only person who knows about Faith’s secrets and dark past (except her parents of course) and I adored the way she pushes Faith to open up to other people again. She decisively adds to Faith’s character growth — whose broken family background I really did not expect.
Javier, Diego’s cousin, was just the perfect wingman you could ask for and I’m so excited he and Melissa will be featured in Book 2!
That being said, Amber Hart just knows how and when to reveal some certain information; how to keep us readers on tenterhooks. I was dying to know why Faith’s father did not intervene in some certain aspects in her life — or why he actually did, but which only resulted in Faith’s unhappiness; why Faith just does not stand up for herself. Maybe it was exactly that depth of the story that totally caught me off guard. I was, perhaps, a little bit biased about the story (I expected a quick and fun summer read) but I definitely did not expect the well-developed plot.
Before You is such an intense read. The romance is intense. The characters are intense. The plot is intense — seriously, I can’t say how many times I had to gasp while reading the book because each chapter just contained a new surprise or revelation. I was surprised by many turns of events throughout the book although the plot was a little bit predictible. See, I knew there would be a clash between both Diego’s and Faith’s past, between their different “cultures” as well as their differnet family backgrounds but I definitely did not see the way the story ended coming!
Amber Hart, I forgive you for each moment you made me cry in the book, for each heartbreaking and heartstopping moment that tore me emotionally apart because the ending was just perfect! It might be a little bit over the top, nonetheless it was just the most awesome conclusion to the whole story.
The last thing I want to say is: OMG, I can’t wait to read Book 2, After Us. There’s actually a little excerpt at the end of Before You so if you don’t want to make the mistake to be book hungover or to suffer from book sequel deprivation, please don’t read it. Seriously, someone please give me Book 2. Any time now. I’ll be waiting.
Amber Hart grew up in Orlando, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. She now resides on the Florida coastline with family. When unable to find a book, she can be found writing, daydreaming, or with her toes in the sand. She’s the author of BEFORE YOU, AFTER US, UNTIL YOU FIND ME, and sequel to UNTIL YOU FIND ME (untitled as of yet). Represented by Beth Miller of Writers House.