I was fortunate to receive an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher and author through Netgalley in exchange for feedback and my honest review. These are my opinions, uninfluenced.
Before We Were Blue by E. J. Schwartz is a young adult, Sapphic contemporary releasing on September 14th 2021. At a treatment centre for eating disorders, Shoshana and Rowan rely on their friendship to survive the drama of the treatment life. As the girls’ friendship develops into something more, their destructive tendencies force them to make a decision: their relationship or their recovery.
This was by no means, an easy read. In fact, I had to take a few breaks while reading this. However, I’m glad that it. This is an important story that needs to be told and read. E. J. Schwartz did not shy away from gritty parts of eating disorders. It’s the unadulterated truth. From what I’ve gathered from other reviews (from people with an ownvoices experience), the handling of eating disorders was done well. From someone who didn’t have a personal experience with it, I felt like I learnt a lot.
This is very much a character driven story. And the characters are flawed and complex. Shoshana isn’t hard to love, I was rooting for her the entire time. She’s definitely flawed, but I loved reading about her growth. Rowan, on the other hard, definitely takes time to get used to. Initially, I really didn’t like her. But the more you learn about her, the more you see why she is the way she is. The character development for both of these characters was done well.
I expected the LGBTQIA+ representation, but the asexual aspect surprised me. It’s not one I’ve read about much but I really enjoyed it.
So many hard topics are dealt with in this and I think they’re done well. I would recommend checking the content warnings because this deals with sexual assault and more. The only thing I found a little unsettling were some of the lines seemed very anti-Semitic. I don’t think I know enough to comment on this one though.
I loved the way the story ended, it was really satisfying but believable. It showed that recovery doesn’t look the same for everyone and it’s not always linear.
Because this is a character driven story, this felt quite slow. Since it deals with hard topics, I kept having to take frequent breaks. This is as a combination, made it hard to pick back up.
This is a really important and I highly recommend it for anyone that enjoys character driven story.