Friday, July 24, 2009

Before the Storm ~ Diane Chamberlain review

Before the Storm
June 1, 2008
480 Pages

Laurel Lockwood is protective of her son, Andy; overprotective, even, it could be argued. Many would find that understandable given that fifteen-year-old Andy is 'special' (I'm quoting the back of the book here) and has already been taken from Laurel once for neglect.

It's her protectiveness that makes her wary when her daughter Maggie, a senior in high school, works to convince her to let Andy attend a church lock-in. Still unsure, Laurell finally gives her consent.

Only to regret it when she receives a call later that night that the lock-in has been moved from the youth center to the church and that the church is now on fire.

Before the Storm tells of the fire inside the church from Andy's point-of-view, the rescue, the later acknowledgement of Andy's heroism, and finally the arson investigation, all while telling the tale of Laurell and her late husband's meeting and relationship and how the family came to be how it is.

As was done in The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes*, each chapter in Before the Storm switches between first person narration of different characters and sometimes different years. Even alternatiing between four or so points of view and different time periods, the story was not hard to follow and I think that it actually made the story much better than if it had all been told by one character in one time.

You learn a lot about all of the characters through the 'solving' of this story and I love that the story was told in this way and wasn't just about the fire and the investigation but was more about the characters (but still not forgetting the events).

I think one of the biggest downsides to reading this was that the summary on the back of the book (and everywhere else, too) tells of events/developments that don't happen until well into the book and the story. I understand that it's a point in the plot and stops the summary from being as vague, maybe, as mine is, but it also makes you read more than 100 pages knowing something that's going to happen but hasn't yet-and I hate that.

So, if you avoid reading summaries anywhere (including that of Secrets She Left Behind the sequel to this), I think you're better off :)

It did cover a lot, though, including some more serious subjects without being preachy or school-y and I appreciated that. While it did all fit, sometimes it felt like there was a bit more than needed to be smushed in and it was getting soap opera-like and almost hurting the characters in a way--I know all people (and thus, characters) have flaws but sometimes it felt like they didn't need to be quite as flawed--or not all of them did. (Maybe it was because the book covered so much time, but it still felt that way to me.)

I liked CeeCee Wilkes better mostly because I loved the characters (CeeCee and Jack) but I'm really glad I decided because of it to read this one and have bought Secrets, the sequel already.



  1. -Juju
    There was definitely a lot going on--I'm hoping I get to the 'sequel' soon to see what all it covers/resolves


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