Genre: YA, Romance, LGBT, Coming of Age
Published by Pen Name Publishing
This is an Advanced Reader’s Copy Received from Netgalley
Another Pen Name Publishing title, I happened to find it on Netgalley, and it had to be read. Once in awhile I sneak in a YA novel to lighten my reading mind. I’m not saying that all YA is light reading or simple, but this one just happened to be one of them. A cute coming of age, romance novel, that what’s this is, and it did quite well, but it wasn’t really for me. People who know me will probably roll their eyes, I am technically still a young adult, and next year I will be part of the New adult genre, which I never touched yet. But let’s get on with this.
The Before Now and After Then is about a boy named Danny Goldstein, who loses his twin brother, Sam. He is also gay and feels that he is nothing but a cardboard cutout, no personality, no own personal tastes, no self confidence. All he has done was hide behind his brother’s shadow and let’s life and his brother choose everything for him. After Sam dies in a car accident, he moves out of his home, into a new one and then attends a new high school. This starts off his new life journey, his mother and father are finally separated, he makes a new friend named Cher, and meets his first crush.
High school, bullies, quirky friends, crushes, that’s all YA food. Everything that makes a YA novel is in this mix of a novel. However, there are little lessons tucked in between the sentences, making this a coming of age novel. Danny soons learns to somewhat move on his own. But he still, even till the end, doesn’t make much progress,despite that there’s the one character, Uncle Alex, who seems to hold him by the hand a bit and teach him a few life lessons, but not in a bedtime story way, in the smallest of ways, the type of way where the character learns later on. Uncle Alex is sort of the Atticus Finch, he tells you a little lesson, a little story of his life, in this case, being gay, a writer, and sort of lonely, and hopes that maybe Daniel will change his mind.
That was what I like about this novel, it teaches you something, it doesn’t preach to the choir and yell at you, but it does what a contemporary YA novel is supposed to do. It tells you how it would feel in the other perspective and it holds your hand and tells you, “Hey, you gotta be you, ignore the asses, and don’t let a little something put you down.” That sounds a bit cheesy, but that’s how I feel about it. I’m not sure why, because I’m literally, maybe 4 or 5 years older than the characters in book, I can’t remember their exact ages, everything feels a bit, teeny bopper hit movie in the theater. The instalove, the 80s pop music, it felt like Perks of Being a Wallflower, except a hundred times less depressing, it doesn’t wallow in the darkness of being a teen.
That was my problem with the book, it took me a few chapters, especially after the the instalove, that this book wasn’t really for me. There’s a lot of romance, teen romance, that is mixed with silly innocence and hormonal feelings. I can’t really explain why when it comes to teen romance, some writers pull it off and some writers do it like I am Number Four, which was a bad way to write the romance, it was a cheesefest. Then again, I never experienced romance yet, so maybe I’m just being immature. That was how I felt about the romance, it was instalove, quite typical of teens and people my age, Oh my god were so in love. That love tends to be sort of shallow and involves every movie romance performance that they had seen on TV. The parents of the story try to be the logical ones and sort of try to persuade the main character that maybe it isn’t true love. But like most YA novels, the main character doesn’t listen and the relationship does have this “Happily Ever After” at the end, after a few tangles. I guess that would be preferred, because lately, now most YA novels purposely have the saddest of endings so everyone can cry about it, and then more copies fly off the shelves as your friends cries about how it’s so amazing and it made them cry. Okay, what I just said sounds pretty terrible. It is somewhat true though.
But it is great for the YA audience and I can understand all of the Goodreads and Twitter hype. The Before Now and After Then does what it was meant to do. It’s great for those who feel misunderstood and outcasted. The high school blues, they’re freaking terrible.