Thursday, May 17, 2018

Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

Synopsis (via Goodreads): The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As the weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhoods, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?

Both candid and compassionate, Before I Let You Go explores a hotly divisive topic and asks how far the ties of family love can be stretched before they finally break.
Addiction is, in that way, just like love—in the early moments, you don’t see the potential for it to bring you pain—it’s just something you slide into between laughs and smiles and moments of bliss. It’s something that feels like a shield, until you realize it’s actually a warhead, and it’s pointed right at you.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, the quote I used may have changed or been altered in some way, but I am quoting from what I received.

Before I Let You Go was really hard for me to read. I don't mind reading books that make me uncomfortable, but there are no words to truly describe how awful child abuse is. Children trust adults to love and take care of them, and they shouldn't have to worry about someone hurting them physically or psychologically. They're impressionable, and if you tell them something long enough, and with enough force, they're likely to believe it themselves.

Kelly Rimmer touches on a lot of difficult subjects that both angered and saddened me. My heart broke for Annie, Lexie, Daisy, their mom, and even Sam. No one was untouched by the addiction and abuse, because they were all connected in some way. It effected the lives of everyone, but some more than others. Daisy is a sweet, innocent child that had no say in how she was born into this world. The fact that a newborn had to suffer through withdrawals killed me. I don't know what I would have done as a parent in that situation, or a relative in Lexie's case.

However, even though I was disgusted with Annie for allowing this to happen to her child, I also know that she suffers from an addiction, which is an illness. Addiction should be treated and people should be offered help instead of condemnation. We can never truly know someone's past, or what happened in their life that started them on a path of self-destruction. They are still people. A lot of states prosecute mothers who test positive for drugs when they are pregnant. It's a felony, and the rights of their child are given to someone else (while the mother is still pregnant). Annie's doctors had to get permission from the baby's guardian to perform an emergency C-section. She had no say over what happened to her own body, and even the medications she was prescribed had to go through someone other than her doctors.

I understand that the law wants to do what's best for the baby, but what about the mother? They only care about the baby while it's in the womb. They stop giving a shit the second it's born and can be placed in foster care. They'll still do whatever they can to punish the mother, but they don't give any more thought to the child or their future. How about putting more money into the foster care system? They could also offer to help the mothers instead of taking them away from their babies. I know this isn't the case for every mother with an addiction, but surely there are better ways for their situations to be handled.

Like I said, this book gave me a lot to think about, and it also challenged my views on addiction and how it affects people. As for the story, it was difficult to get through at times, but it was powerful. There are a lot of important things being said, and it's hard to wish for one specific outcome.

Lexie frequently got on my nerves. She was incredibly stubborn and insisted on doing everything herself. However, she does recognize this about herself, so that made her poor decisions easier to forgive. She was struggling to cope with everything being thrown at her, and she's used to doing it alone. It was easy for her to forget that Sam wanted to help. He also wanted her to be able to ask for it. Their relationship was sweet, but we also see their ups and downs as the story progresses. Taking on a baby, dealing with a relative in rehab, work--the logistics of it all is maddening. They were truly a team, though, especially when it mattered most.

If it were possible for me to reach into the book and pull Lexie's mom out, I would have done it in an instant. I wanted to shake her until she realized how blind and disturbingly obedient she was being. I understand that she was grieving, but your children should always come first. They should always be your main priority, and you should listen when they have something to say.

This book made me shake with anger, cry with helplessness, and wish for the impossible. I cared about all of these characters individually, and I really wanted their lives to work out in the best possible way. Before I Let You Go is a poignant story that makes you view things from a different perspective, feel every emotion imaginable, and appreciate the things in life you may have taken for granted.

24 comments:

  1. Having investigated child abuse and neglect for 14 years, I think I'll skip this one. I don't need to relive those years. However, I think your thoughts and review are great and I know a lot of people are picking this one up.

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    1. I have a relative that worked for CPS, so I would talk to her frequently while I read this book. I had so many questions about the laws surrounding addiction (especially for pregnant women), and wanted to know why more wasn't being done to help those affected by it. It's a complicated mess, but from what I can tell... the child endangerment charge was supposed to be for parents who cooked meth (or something similar) with their children around. It wasn't supposed to be about pregnant women struggling with addiction. People in power decided they could make the law apply to those women, so they did. It's incredibly frustrating, and I can understand why you wouldn't want to relive those memories.

      I do think this book raises a lot of good points that people should be discussing.

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  2. Oh wow, this sounds like such a powerful book. I can't imagine what babies who have withdrawal must go through. But you're right, addiction is an illness and I feel bad for the moms too! I wish they got more help and it's crazy to think that someone can police your baby while still in the womb. Yes, it's for the baby's sake, but it needs to be a bit more of a balance between helping the child AND helping the mom.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. Adults will tell you that withdrawals are excruciating and extremely hard to go through. It's why a lot of people have trouble detoxing, and most rehab clinics have to go about the process slowly so their bodies can adjust. A lot of addicts thrown in prison have suffered greatly (even died in some cases), because their withdrawals were so severe and they weren't treated properly. It really is an illness and not something people can just "get over."

      Now take all of that information and imagine a child going through that. Hospitals will use morphine to help babies cope with NAS, but there isn't anything you can do about their muscles or their painful cries. They're innocent and have no idea why they are in so much pain.

      I agree. There needs to be a better system in place to help everyone, and not just the unborn child. Also, if you're going to be policing the pregnancy, you should still care about what happens to the child after it's born.

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  3. Ugh, this sounds like such a tough read, I'm not sure I could do it. Just from reading your review, I feel alternately sympathetic and frustrated by the characters.

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    1. It was hard to read at times, but I thought the story was incredibly impactful. There are a lot of wonderful points made, and the author brings attention to things that people probably don't think about in their day-to-day lives. The world isn't going to change unless people become more aware and start trying to do things differently. There has to be a better way to deal with addiction.

      I went back and forth on my feelings for the characters, too. There are plenty of reasons to be upset with them, but it's hard to hate them once you know their story. It's heartbreaking.

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  4. Sounds like a really tough one to read. My husband came from a really messed up mom and was in foster care. I don’t know if I’d be able to have any sympathy for the mom.

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    1. I didn't think I would have any sympathy for the mom either, but I was surprised. What she did was WRONG, but we get to see her journey in this book. We see where her mind was when she made certain decisions, and how her thoughts usually conflicted with her desires. We're also given a glimpse into what her life was life BEFORE the addiction, and how her environment and parental figures played a large role in her choices. I felt sympathetic for the girl she was, and for the person she had the potential to be. I felt sad for the person who desperately wanted to be a mother to her child, but was too sick to immediately handle that responsibility.

      I'm sorry about your husband's experience. I have no idea what it's like to grow up in foster care, or how that can change a person's perspective on life. My husband and I have always wanted to adopt kids once ours are a little older, and from the beginning we've wanted to adopt the older kids in foster care.

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  5. "They stop giving a shit the second it's born" I'm going to restrain myself from the rant on the tip of my tongue but yeah...it's so frustrating.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I had to keep myself from ranting in my review! I started to and then stopped myself, because I could already tell it was going to be a longer review without my frustrations with the system being included.

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  6. it sounds really intense... chld abuse it's a really complicated topic

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    1. Very complicated. Children don't always know what to do when it happens, and they're terrified of saying anything out of fear. They don't want it to happen again, and they don't think anyone will believe them over an adult anyway. There needs to be a better system in place, or it needs to be taught in school, for children to be able to come forward with their stories. They don't need to be dismissed, and someone needs to REALLY listen.

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  7. This book sounds so intense. Not sure my heart can handle it but I think I should give it a try. haven't heard of this book before and will go check it out like now. great review.

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    1. Happy I could bring it to your attention! It was rough at times, but it really is a beautiful story about love and family.

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  8. I think this book would just piss me off. Addiction is a very touchy subject with me because so many of my family members went through the struggle before getting clean. Laws are crazy when it comes to pregnant addicts. The laws are different in different states and I saw first had how social services will come into a hospital the moment the baby is born to an addict and take it away from the mother. I knew a neighbor who had 10 kids and her mother had custody of 4 of them. Social services took the others when they were born. Complicated subject matter.

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    1. The first days of a baby's life are incredibly important, especially for children that are born with drugs in their system. They physically and emotionally NEED their mothers. Breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, the comfort they felt in the womb--it's all crucial to their survival. Also, mothers need that connection to help with PPD and staying healthy. Ripping a child away at birth does nothing to help the baby. It actually does a lot of harm to the mother AND the baby. They need each other, even for a few weeks until the baby is discharged, and shouldn't be forced apart because of some outdated law. It's cruel. Letting the mother have supervised time with her child would benefit everyone, and allow the mother to make other arrangements for her child. Her rights should not be immediately stripped, but she should be given an opportunity to make things better. She should be offered HELP instead of hurting her in the worse way possible.

      Mothers that are suffering from an addiction are not as likely to go to a hospital to give birth or get the help they need. They know someone will take their baby away, so instead of risking that, they try to have their babies on their own. What's worse? An addict having her baby in a hospital where they can both be treated, or having a baby somewhere... less ideal? The law needs to stop prosecuting addicts that are trying to get help, or trying to do the right thing. Complicated indeed.

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  9. Her baby not even born had a guardian? I am just thinking how badly that could have gone, an emergency c-section, they can't sit around and wait for hours then. But then again, that baby needed someone not on drugs, but still. both could die

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    1. Right, but they shouldn't have to go through the baby's guardian. The medical professionals are capable of making decisions without the mother being actively involved. They're trained to handle those situations and shouldn't have to go through someone else. The law/government should trust the hospital to do what's best for mother and child. It's a really messed up system.

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  10. This would make me cry. I am an ugly crier. Children are so innocent and precious. Wonderful review Lindsi.

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    1. Thank you, Kimberly! I don't know if I'm an ugly crier, but I'm definitely a loud one. Especially once I start sobbing. This book gave me a new perspective, but it wasn't always pretty or easy to read about.

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  11. I don't think I'd been able to get through this book. I hate seeing child abuse, rape, or bullying in books. It affects me so much.

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    1. I don't like reading about them in books that only use them to further a story. Books that address these issues in a constructive/enlightening way, or if it's a story about healing/understanding, are different. I think they serve a purpose, but it doesn't make them any easier to read.

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  12. Wow, this does sound intense. It might be too much for me, but it sounds like a really emotional story.
    Jen Ryland Reviews

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    1. My emotions were all over the place! I really and truly hated one of the characters. They made me angry-cry with frustration and horror. There was also the sadness surrounding Daisy (the baby), and even a little for Annie (the mom). This book wrecked my nerves.

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