Before I Go by Colleen Oakley (Fiction/Romance/Chick Lit) was a suggestion that came up for me on Goodreads. The premise sounded really interesting to me – Daisy, recently diagnosed with breast cancer, seeks out her husband Jack’s next wife.
What we read on the back cover is the description of Jack as “brilliant but otherwise charmingly helpless.” Charmingly helpless? What does that mean?
Daisy needs to find Jack a new wife because she is worried about what will happen to him when she passes away and isn’t around to take care of him. To take care of him. I’ll paraphrase her reasoning here: “Who will pick up his socks from the floor when I’m gone? Who will make sure he eats a balanced meal?! Jack doesn’t know how to cook, clean, or function without a woman to slave for him!” Chill, girl.
Anyway apparently he is a man-child. Then why not seek a new mother instead? Or a maid? Or a therapist?
Honestly, I really wanted to like this book. It has a cute premise. But when the story began to develop – Daisy worrying about Jack and concluding that she must find him a wife - I was not convinced by the plot, and I think that killed the story for me.
As I was reading it all was seeming weirder and more bizarre and I was expecting a really dramatic ending. I was so disappointed when it all added up to a big misunderstanding. It was resolved in like… One page. “Oh, Jack, I was foolish for not trusting you! (Even though you have been ignoring me and hanging out with a hot chick who doesn’t have cancer that I have been trying to set you up with!) Silly me!”
That is not how it probably would have gone, realistically, and I felt like it was a cop-out. If Jack had at least admitted attraction to this other woman, I would have been happily unsatisfied with the ending (tension!). But nope, Other Woman is quickly forgotten, and *spoiler alert* Daisy dies and that is our ending. (But is it really a spoiler if you know that she has a couple months to live after reading the back cover?) And I really didn’t have any emotional connection to the characters, since I couldn’t justify neither Jack nor Daisy’s actions at all in my own mind.
I didn’t know much about Oakley when I finished the book, so I looked her up to see what else she’s written. She is a journalist and this is her first novel! I thought that was super cool. It’s possible that she is still finding her voice as a creative writer, or she has little personal experience with the topics dealt with in this book. I will probably read her next novel out of fairness to her. :)