All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

on March 22, 2018

Before I Let You Go
Kelly Rimmer
Hachette AUS
2018, 379p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Your sister needs you. But her child needs you more…

As children, Lexie and Annie were incredibly close. Bonded by the death of their beloved father and their mother’s swift remarriage, they weathered the storms of life together. When Lexie leaves home to follow her dream, Annie is forced to turn to her leather-bound journal as the only place she can confide her deepest secrets and fears…

As adults, sisters Lexie and Annie could not be more different. Lexie is a doctor, successful in her practice and happily engaged. Annie is addicted to heroin – a thief, a liar, and unable to remain clean despite the fact that she is pregnant. When Annie’s newborn baby is in danger of being placed in foster care, Annie picks up the phone to beg her sister for help. Will Lexie agree to help and take in her young niece? And how will Annie survive, losing the only thing in her life worth living for?

This book was a complete page turner.

I started it on Tuesday, about 2.5hours before I would have to leave to go get my kids from school. I thought I’d just read a bit of it but with around an hour to go before I had to leave I realised it was going to be a bit of a race – would I finish it before I had to go? I didn’t want to have to put it down!

Lexie hasn’t heard from her sister Annie in two years – since she threw Annie out of her house after Annie’s addiction had impacted on their lives too much for Lexie to continue. It’d been years of trying to get Annie help with little success. But when Annie calls in the middle of the night with news that she’s pregnant and not feeling well, Lexie doesn’t hesitate to race to her side.

This book made me feel a lot of things – I was surprised actually, the amount and range of emotions Kelly Rimmer was able to inspire. It’s so easy to judge a pregnant drug addict – and in fact, there’s plenty of judgement in this novel. Even from Lexie, who as a doctor and Annie’s sister, knows full well the dangers and powers of an addiction. But you can’t help it at times. Especially when the novel goes to on to describe in great detail what happens when a baby is born from a drug addicted mother and then has to go through an assisted withdrawal process. It’s horrific and heartbreaking.

But this book is also set in Alabama, which has some very strict child endangerment laws which are used in this case as a basis to strip Annie of her parental rights. The baby isn’t even born, Annie is not allowed a lawyer at a bedside hearing and the consequences are often mandated rehab and any failure results in jail time. It was hard not to feel completely outraged at Annie’s lack of autonomy, despite her debilitating addiction. It’s easy to look down on addicts, to judge them for their choices and the fact that they have endangered the health of their child….but they are still people. They have all ended up in this spot for different reasons and very few would choose it willingly, especially once discovering their pregnancy.

This book tells Annie’s story as diary entries written to her counsellor which flesh out her past and how she came to be set upon a path that led her to addiction. Annie has a way with words (something that dates back to her childhood) and the way in which she paints an upbringing gone wrong is so powerful. A set of circumstances that left deep scars on a girl who deserved better and those scars grew and grew until they became an addiction. The novel does a fantastic job in showcasing Annie’s spiral – the mental demons that plagued her and the why, the how. Parts of that story infuriated me too. Both Lexie and Annie are badly let down at a time when they need strength the most. When Annie is left alone in a terrible situation, it escalates to a degree that Lexie never had to experience. I think it also showcases that someone can escape an awful situation…..but yet not really escape. Still be troubled and plagued by it until it controls most or all, facets of your life.

I think this book also showcases how inadequately drugs and addiction are dealt with. Encompassing situations like this under a criminal offence, like in Alabama, doesn’t do anything for anyone. It doesn’t help an addict try and either manage their addiction or overcome it. Court ordered rehabilitation doesn’t really work either. Women like Annie don’t belong in jail, contributing to a probably already overcrowded system. Is she equipped to care for her child? Probably not. But she doesn’t deserve to be treated like she doesn’t matter either. Annie is more than just an incubator for her child – she’s also a person who should have rights and priorities as well. Her health is important. In order for Annie (and others) to be an effective mother they need to be treated as importantly as their children are. I don’t have the answers, I’m not a health or drug and alcohol specialist but removing their children from them as soon as they are born and putting them into jail or forcing them into facilities seems like setting them up just to fail. Annie was lucky – she had a sister that loved her perhaps more than anything else in the world. There was nothing Lexie wouldn’t have done in order to help Annie. And that includes caring for her baby, once born with the hope that one day, Annie would be well enough to resume her parental duties. But not everyone has the sort of safety net that Annie did in that respect and many babies end up in the foster care system, bounced around between homes. So the rules and the system do very little for the babies they’re attempting to protect as well, in a number of cases.

This is an excellent book – perfectly paced and with a kaleidoscope sort of story where as you move through to the next portion, it changes your mind on how you feel about the characters. I absolutely loved it.


Book #54 of 2018

One response to “Review: Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

  1. Lauren K says:

    This book definitely takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster! I think the balance between informing the reader (without preaching) was very well done through showing the impact of the issues on the two women in the story. I found it hard to put the book down too. Great review Bree 🙂

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