I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Before Now and After Then by Peter Monn
Published by Pen Name Publishing on July 29, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT+, Young Adult
Danny Goldstein has always lived in the shadow of his identical twin brother Sam. But when a hurricane of events forces him into the spotlight, he starts to realize that the only thing he’s truly afraid of is himself. With the help of his costume changing friend Cher, a famous gay uncle with a mysterious past of his own, two aging punk rocker parents and Rusty, the boy who will become his something to live for, Danny begins to realize that the music of the heart is truly the soundtrack for living.
I was really looking forward to this book when I first heard about it. The themes that it promises to cover are amazing. Young adult, LGBT, a character who is dealing with loss (and not just ‘any’ loss, but loss of a twin brother) and trying to find his identity, first love, and then some music… I’m digging it.
Did it deliver on all points? Not entirely, but… I really enjoyed it nonetheless.
To begin with, this book started off so well. I was sucked right into it from the start. The book pretty much steps on your heart before it even properly begins. And it only gets better from there. The plot develops relatively quickly but does not feel rushed – at least not in the beginning. The characters are introduced and I instantly fell in love. Danny, Cher, Rusty, the parents, uncle Alex, each of them loveable in their own way.
The setting and plot are relatively standard I suppose, but they work well. What I love about this book is that I’m sure so many people can identify. Teenagers and adults, LGBT and straight alike. It is first and foremost a book about a teenager, dealing with teenager-y things. And then some.
And then there’s the writing style: straightforward and fits the book perfectly. Really, there is a lot to love about this book!
But yes, there were a few things that bugged me. Insta-love makes me cringe every time, no excuses (sorry). Also some parts of the story deserved more attention, in my opinion. For example, Danny’s friend Cher had a lot going on but still seemed like a bland background character. It didn’t help that Danny didn’t seem to have any thoughts or feelings about some of the major things that were happening in other people’s lives (yes, I get it, he has things to worry about, but..). By the end of the book, I almost felt as if I liked everyone more than I liked Danny.
And I missed the music that was promised. Yes, there was music, but there could easily be more music. What can I say, reading about music in the synopsis made my heart beat faster so yes… More please. 😉
Oh. And that cover. It’s kind of hard to miss and I’m not a fan. A different shade of green would go a long way, for starters…
So overall: Recommended!