Book Review: Before We Were Blue by Schwartz, E.J.

Posted September 14, 2021 by lomeraniel in Audiobooks, Fiction, LGBT, Literary, Review / 0 Comments

Book Review: Before We Were Blue by Schwartz, E.J.Before We Were Blue by E.J. Schwartz
Narrator: Gail Shalan, Chloe Dolandis
Published by Vibrance Press on September 14, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Literary, LGBT
Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Narrator
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Overal Rating: four-half-stars

Get healthy on their own—or stay sick together?
At Recovery and Relief, a treatment center for girls with eating disorders, the first thing Shoshana Winnick does is attach herself to vibrant but troubled Rowan Parish. Shoshana—a cheerleader on a hit reality TV show—was admitted for starving herself to ensure her growth spurt didn’t ruin her infamous tumbling skills. Rowan, on the other hand, has known anorexia her entire life, thanks to her mother’s “chew and spit” guidance. Through the drudgery and drama of treatment life, Shoshana and Rowan develop a fierce intimacy—and for Rowan, a budding infatuation, that neither girl expects.
As “Gray Girls,” patients in the center’s Gray plan, Shoshana and Rowan are constantly under the nurses’ watchful eyes. They dream of being Blue, when they will enjoy more freedom and the knowledge that their days at the center are numbered. But going home means separating and returning to all the challenges they left behind. The closer Shoshana and Rowan become, the more they cling to each other—and their destructive patterns. Ultimately, the girls will have to choose: their recovery or their relationship.

Shoshana and Rowan, two girls from completely different worlds, meet at a recovery center for girls with eating disorders. Each girl is in a different moment in life but the specific circumstances in which they meet make them walk together for a while transforming each other’s life.

Soshana and Rowan narrate each their own story in alternating chapters, written in first person. Many of the events are told from both points of view, which makes clear how different their views of the world are. The writing style is different too. The easy and the most typical thing would have been to create a similar narrative for each of them, as we see in other books, but the way in which they express themselves says sometimes more than the words themselves. Shoshana reads like regular literary fiction written in first person, but Rowan’s parts feel like letters written to Shoshana. I think I liked these ones better because they showed a reflexive quality in Rowen that we didn’t see on the outside.

I don’t have an eating disorder, so it’s difficult for me to form an opinion of both girls, but even though I could relate to them at times, none of them was especially likable. They were too real and flawed at times which, in turn, made the story more believable and gripping. I found myself relating more to one of them at the beginning but this changed over the course of the book at witnessing both characters’ evolution.

Gail Shalan and Chloe Dolandis delivered an exquisite dual narration that made this audiobook a very enjoyable experience. Both narrators have pleasant voices and excellent interpretations skills, and did an amazing job at expressing the girls’ emotions with their voices, to the point that, at times, I had the impression of listening to two lost girls instead of two narrators performing in an audio production. I love dual narrations for this kind of book, as they help the listener to make a clear distinction between both characters from the start. It also adds another layer of complexity and richness that makes for a better listening experience.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Story (Plot)
four-stars
Narration
five-stars
Overall: four-half-stars

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