Before You by Amber Hart
Series: Before & After #1
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Kensington Books
Format: eARC, 321 pages
How I got it: NetGalley
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Oh it’s difficult for me to put my thoughts about this one into words. I liked the book. Portions of it really held my attention, but at other times I found myself almost skimming because things were moving too slowly for my liking. I read it in an evening, though, so kit definitely engaged me to some amount.
On the surface, I liked the characters and the storyline. Faith was strong and relatively likable. She was tired of all the pressure of being perfect, and who can’t relate to that on some level? Diego was a bit of a jerk on the surface, but there was more to him underneath. I did enjoy the dynamic between the two. They were both pretty spunky and their banter in the beginning was fun. Yeah, there was a bit of instalove… Ok, it was really more hate to instalove, but still. It worked in this book, somehow. Faith and Diego had chemistry. It was apparent from their first meeting. They were from two different worlds, but each holding a secret that definitely impacted the way they behaved in present day. The big secrets were revealed pretty early on in the book and I found Faith’s far more believable than Diego’s. The romance between them was good and passionate. I really liked them together and, overall, thought they were good for each other, even if others had a difficult time seeing it because of their differences. Faith helped him realize there are people worth fighting for and Diego helped pull her out of her shell so she could find herself again.
I felt like the race relations and impact on the characters in the book were portrayed pretty realistically, for the most part. It’s 2014 and people are more open-minded, but that doesn’t always mean interracial relationships are always accepted. Diego’s current struggles felt very real, even if some of his backstory was a bit far-fetched for me. While I’ll admit I didn’t love the characters in the beginning, I grew to love them as I watched them face their pasts and struggle to make a better future for themselves and each other. There was a moment towards the end I was pretty sure I was going to have to throw this book out the window out of sheer frustration and disappointment, but it turned around quickly. Thank goodness. Because if it had gone THERE, I would have been one seriously angry person. So it is safe to say I connected with the story and the characters on some level if I was that distraught and emotional.
Yes, this book had flaws, but so did the characters. We all do. The book was a little too prose-y for me at times and the dialogue made me roll my eyes at times because I couldn’t possibly imagine kids their age speaking that way. But all in all, it was a good book. It kept me guessing as to what would happen next. Because of the star-crossed lovers vibe it was giving off, I was unable to ever get truly comfortable and confident these characters would find a happily ever after. Faith and Diego’s story might be over for now, but I’m very much looking forward to reading the sequel, After Us. I need to know more about Melissa and Javier’s story!