Title: Before I Saw You
Author: Amy K Sorrells
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publishing Date: June 5, 2018
About the Book:
Folks are dying fast as the ash trees in the southern Indiana town ravaged by the heroin epidemic, where Jaycee Givens lives with nothing more than a thread of hope and a quirky neighbor, Sudie, who rescues injured wildlife. After a tragedy leaves her mother in prison, Jaycee is carrying grief and an unplanned pregnancy she conceals because she trusts no one, including the kind and handsome Gabe, who is new to town and to the local diner where she works.
Dividing her time between the diner and Sudie’s place, Jaycee nurses her broken heart among a collection of unlikely friends who are the closest thing to family that she has. Eventually, she realizes she can’t hide her pregnancy any longer–not even from the baby’s abusive father, who is furious when he finds out. The choices she must make for the safety of her unborn child threaten to derail any chance she ever had for hope and redemption. Ultimately, Jaycee must decide whether the truest form of love means hanging on or letting go.
WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO READ WITHOUT KLEENEX! This book had my crying before I’d even hit page 50, and had me shedding crocodile tears at the end. This was one emotional roller-coaster of a ride. In many ways this was not an easy read–but was a necessary one. My husband (along with several of his siblings) are adopted children, so this story really hit close to home. I really don’t want to give away too much in the story-line for this because it was all so powerful and each piece was perfectly woven to be revealed at just the right time.
This was a book I ended with book fog. My poor husband was sitting right beside me as I finished and saw the giant tears coming down my face. While he’s fairly used to my emotional reactions to books, he said he was surprised to see me sobbing. I shared with him what the book was about so he already knew. I actually asked him a couple questions about his adoption if he knew of his birth mother having any contact with him before she had to say goodbye.
One thing that I find of important note that I feel the book did a very good job of addressing, comes along with the wording when talking about adoption. My husband had a unique situation that the ministry that helped his birth mother through her pregnancy also has been a part of his life. While it was a closed adoption and they could not reveal any information to either party, they were able to minister to both sides. One of the things that I have personally heard them repeat, is that they are against the usage of the term “giving up for adoption.” They use the term “placed in adoption” because the hope of the mother is to give their child their best chance. It’s a difficult, selfless decision to provide the very best for their child even if it can’t be with them. I appreciated the wording that the author used throughout to be sensitive to the topic and sharing the full heart behind it all.
Another powerful piece to the story was the fact that while Jaycee had a rough upbringing with her mother addicted to heroin, God had provided people around her that were able to step-in where her mother had signed-out. She had a community of people that truly cared for her and were by her side in full support regardless of what she was going through. My favorite supporting character was Jaycee’s neighbor Sudie. She would take in inured animals like birds, turtles, raccoons, etc and rehabilitate them. Jaycee would go over to her home and help her out. Sudie was like the grandmother she never had. While her past is a bit of a mystery in the beginning, more is revealed overtime and it made me appreciate her even more. I won’t reveal anything because you need to read for yourself. Just know she’s an amazing woman.
Towards the beginning of the story I wasn’t quite sure where Jaycee stood on a spiritual level, but it appears she had church interaction throughout her life. What broke my heart the most though was Jaycee’s feelings that she didn’t deserve God’s love and felt completely unworthy. Her friend Carla had the perfect response: “It’s the folks who thought the Lord shouldn’t love them that he made a point to love the most.” God is able to reach out to us and meet us where we are at. He is able to pick us up even out of our lowest low if we will just take his hand and follow him.
I really don’t want to share too much about this story because it’s so perfectly orchestrated, but I seriously can’t recommend it enough. As I said in the beginning, a box of tissues is basically a requirement for reading, but I promise it’s worth it. Despite being a fictional story, this book is real. It’s the story and voice of countless women who have or have contemplated placing a child in adoption. It’s a message to the adopted children, that they haven’t been “given up” but instead given their best chance. It’s a powerful enough message that I’m tearing up just writing this review. Absolutely being added to my favorites list!
*Exciting news! At the time of this posting the book is currently one sale (for the month of September) on Amazon and other e-book platforms for only $1.99! Make sure you check the price before checking-out, but here’s a great chance to get your hands on a copy!
Age Appropriateness/Content Warnings:
*PLEASE NOTE: This section may contain spoilers but I do my best to reveal the difficult and/or triggering content without giving away the story
While this is an amazing book, it’s very emotional and could easily be a book with quite a bit of triggering content. In the beginning Jaycee is in a physically abusive relationship. There is discussion over the fact that her boyfriend was able to get off-the-hook for raping and abusing another girl in the past. Jaycee’s mother is a heroin addict and at one point it’s hinted that she may have been mistreated by some of her mother’s “customers.” There are a few different types of scenarios of infant death. Jaycee goes through a whole gamut of emotions when considering what she will choose for the baby. The content is intense, but the story is worth it. I would not recommend this story to younger readers though due to the maturity and intensity of the content.