Add Before The Beginning to your Goodreads TBR:
Published in Australia on the 29th September, 2020 by Lothian Children’s Books, an imprint of Hachette.
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Magical Realism, Urban Fantasy.
Page Count: 234
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Sypnosis from Hachette Australia –
The story of four friends, a mysterious stranger, and the week when everything changed. For fans of We Were Liars.
Schoolies week: that strange in-between time when teenagers move from school into the adult world. It’s a week when anything is possible, and everything can change.
Grace is questioning everything she thought about herself, and has opted not to join her clique of judgemental friends for schoolies, instead tagging along with her brother Casper and his friends. Casper, an artist, is trying to create the perfect artwork for his uni application folio. Overachieving, anxiety-ridden Noah is reeling from a catastrophe that might have ruined his ATAR result. And Elsie is just trying to figure out how to hold their friendship group together.
On the first night of the trip, they meet Sierra, a mysterious girl with silver-grey hair and a magnetic personality. All of them are drawn to her for different reasons, and she persuades them to abandon the cliched schoolies experience in favour of camping with her on a remote, uninhabited island. On that island, each of them will find answers to their questions. But what does Sierra want from them?
An empathetic and suspenseful coming-of-age story from the author of All That Impossible Space.
A huge thank you to Hachette Australia/Date a Book for sending me a copy of Before The Beginning to read and review as part of the review tour, all thoughts are my own.
I’d long been excited for Before The Beginning, having absolutely adored Anna Morgan’s wonderful debut, All That Impossible Space.
I love how Before The Beginning sweeps readers in right away, with one of the main characters reflecting on their adventure and the mysterious young girl who they meet near the start of their journey, Sierra. As soon as her character was introduced, I found myself wanting to know more of her origin and her agenda – I absolutely loved that there were notations in between the chapters, alluding to mythological ties connecting Sierra to the island and of course the little teasers about the islands history, where a group of young teens ventured on an exciting but ill fated trip!
These wonderfully mythical teasers coupled with a backdrop of a cast of wonderfully real characters celebrating Schoolies, though not potentially in the conventional fashion, Before The Beginning is a wonderfully lyrical, immersive, cross-genre beauty!
I love how Before The Beginning is narrated from each of the main characters points of view, starting and ending with Grace, who we meet as a young girl who’s questioning everything she thought she knew (especially on a spiritual level, being torn about her Church’s values and learning her once close friends would be prejudice against what she believes in! I instantly adored her and hopefully she’d find happiness and peace in this adventure! Though it was so sad that her Brother (Casper) didn’t want her tagging along and didn’t care enough to tell his closest friends (Elsie and Noah) that she was coming in the first place!
Noah’s chapters were my favourite, I found Anna Morgan’s writing depicting his anxiety and worrying nature on such a real scale! His emotions, to me, really seeped through the page and his character was definitely the one that I loved reading about most, I honestly thought that his chapters were the ones packed with the most emotion, I found myself really feeling sad for him when he recounts fond memories of his beloved cat curling up with him and putting happily, Noah not always knowing his purpose in the world but being happy knowing that he could be a cushion for Ursula! So sweet, my heart!
Each of our four characters definitely had a chip on their shoulder throughout Before The Beginning and it was really great that Grace, Casper, Noah and Elsie got to have moments throughout this book where they learnt things about themselves, though it’s definitely not to say that the journey definitely wasn’t without its angst, because there was definitely plenty of that! Unfortunately for me though, I felt like there was just too much page time spent amongst these characters talking about their realisations, more so getting to the point where they always had suspected Sierra of erring on the menacing side and thinking she wants to keep them on the island (again, those whispers of mythology, which I love and truthfully wish there had of been more of!).
I definitely recommend Before The Beginning though, if you’re looking for a beautiful and completely mysterious and sometimes whimsical adventure, shrouded in some mythology too!