If I’m considering the whole of Christina Lee’s “Before You Break” – I would say it’s a decent narrative for the idea/grounds behind the story. This is also a story with enough realistic tangibility to where I could get behind it for the aim, at the very least.
But for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what was bugging me about the story/narrative in general. I kept trying to get into Ella and Quinn’s respective perspectives (this is told in dual narrative), but I kept feeling like there was a block between me identifying with the characters and their respective circumstances. There’s a huge emotional distance in the narrative that I couldn’t connect to, not to mention there were several plot points/realizations that were rehashed and made the narrative feel longer than it should’ve been.
Quinn’s grieving over his responsibility in a friend’s death and his respective depression, while Ella’s working a suicide hotline and recalling memories of her own brother, who committed suicide. She’s also recovering from being in a relationship with a guy who didn’t love her, but her parents approved of. Quinn and Elle don’t know it, but aside from meeting each other through the similar circle of friends/university frat relations, they know each other through the suicide hotline. Quinn identifies as Daniel, and Elle identifies as Gabby. “Daniel” confides his situation with “Gabby,” while teetering on the edge of losing himself to his grief.
It’s really only a matter of time before they both figure the truth and when it happens, it may threaten their relationship.
I wish I could’ve liked this more. I really wish I could’ve, but the more I read into it for the longest time, between a plethora of sensuous scenes, repetitious bits (the fact that Ella’s old boyfriend was bad for her, Quinn kind of going in circles with his arousal around Elle and bitterness against his respective pains) and points where the narrative plodded along – I had such a hard time with the connection that was supposed to be there. The details made it seem like the narrative had depth, but the emotional distance and build-up that felt too long coming really shortchanged the story.
I did appreciate seeing some of the previous characters from “All of You” in here, but I didn’t feel like they really amounted to much more in development for the sake of the narrative. They didn’t engage me or connect as well as I was hoping.
I don’t know, I guess I expected much more from this narrative than it provided in addition to having trouble with its respective delivery. I’m willing to read the next book from Lee, but I’m kind of hoping the emotional connection’s a little better and more consistent. It was plodding along for a while in this narrative – so when the ending hit, it felt like being hit in the back of the head all of a sudden with an emotion influx. Some of it was fine, especially with the consequences it lent, but I would’ve appreciated more character depth and emotional consistency than the attention to the sensuous scenes or the repetitious bits.
Overall score: 1.5/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Intermix.