by Clara Kensie
Publisher: Merit Press
Release: November 15th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Charlotte survived four long years as a prisoner in the attic of her kidnapper, sustained only by dreams of her loving family. The chance to escape suddenly arrives, and Charlotte fights her way to freedom. But an answered prayer turns into heartbreak. Losing her has torn her family apart. Her parents have divorced: Dad’s a glutton for fame, Mom drinks too much, and Charlotte’s twin is a zoned-out druggie. Her father wants Charlotte write a book and go on a lecture tour, and her mom wants to keep her safe, a virtual prisoner in her own home. But Charlotte is obsessed with the other girl who was kidnapped, who never got a second chance at life–the girl who nobody but Charlotte believes really existed. Until she can get justice for that girl, even if she has to do it on her own, whatever the danger, Charlotte will never be free.
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(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review).
(This review may contain spoilers).
I thought the blurb of this book was a really intriguing one. As I read the book, it was very clear how well the title fit and I liked how it wasn’t just about the aftermath of Charlotte having been kidnapped, but also how her family was affected.
I was able to empathise with Charlotte really early on, but I felt I didn’t really get to know the other characters as well, since I was only seeing them through her eyes. I thought it was good that, although what she went through was made clear, there wasn’t any graphic detail about it… and it was more about the effects of what had happened still lingering. While it was hard to read at some points, it was good that there were things Charlotte had to do… or couldn’t do… even though I did feel that some of her growth was glossed over.
It was a bit disappointing that The One Before wasn’t shown to be as much of a mystery as the blurb had suggested. I didn’t feel like a lot of the book dwelled on that part of the plot and although it was good to see how the trauma had linked Charlotte with the other two girls, I was a little disappointed by how little I saw her interacting with the people she knew before… or anyone, really, outside of her family. The only person she seemed to have any kind of interaction with outside of her family was Bailey.
I did think it was interesting to see how Charlotte related to CiGi, but I felt that the book was a bit too short for Charlotte to get to the point she had by the end. It was intensely difficult to learn more about what she’d gone through, though, and I really wanted to be able to comfort her. The book did succeed in making me feel a whole mix of different emotions.
I thought it was good to see how other people Charlotte didn’t know were affected by what had happened to her and I really liked being able to see her relationship with Lexa.
I did like reading this book and I found it easy to engage with Charlotte and care about her. I would definitely read more books by this author in the future.
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About The Author
Winner of the 2015 RITA Award for Best First Book
Clara Kensie grew up near Chicago, reading every book she could find and using her diary to write stories about a girl with psychic powers who solved mysteries. She purposely did not hide her diary, hoping someone would read it and assume she was writing about herself. Since then, she’s swapped her diary for a computer and admits her characters are fictional, but otherwise she hasn’t changed one bit.
Today, Clara is the author of dark fiction for young adults. Her debut, the super-romantic thriller RUN TO YOU BOOK ONE: DECEPTION SO DEADLY is the winner of the prestigious RITA Award for Best First Book.
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