Before Everything
A group of lifetime friends gather together to confront life, love, and now mortality“Everything you want a novel about life, death, and friendship to be—smart, moving, sweeping, poetic, stinging, just beautiful. I loved these women (and their men) and this elegy to their long-reaching bonds.”—Dani Shapiro, author of Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage Before Everything is a celebration of friendship and love between a group of women who have known each another since they were girls. They’ve faced everything together, from youthful sprees and scrapes to mid-life turning points. Now, as Anna, the group’s trailblazer and brightest spark, enters hospice, they gather to do what they’ve always done—talk and laugh and help each other make choices and plans, this time in Anna’s rural Massachusetts home. Helen, Anna’s best friend and a celebrated painter, is about to remarry. The others face their own challenges—Caroline with her sister’s mental health crisis; Molly with a teenage daughter’s rebellion; Ming with her law practice—dilemmas with kids and work and love. Before Everything is as funny as it is bittersweet, as the friends revel in the hilarious mistakes they’ve seen each another through, the secrets kept, and adventures shared. But now all sense of time has shifted, and the pattern of their lives together takes on new meaning. The novel offers a brilliant, emotionally charged portrait, deftly conveying the sweep of time over everyday lives, and showing how even in difficult endings, gifts can unfold. Above all it is an ode to friendship, and to how one person shapes the journeys of those around her.

Before Everything Details

TitleBefore Everything
Author
FormatHardcover
ReleaseJun 27th, 2017
PublisherViking
ISBN0735222576
ISBN-139780735222571
Number of pages288 pages
Rating
GenreFiction, Literary Fiction

Before Everything Review

  • Charlie Smith
    April 23, 2017
    It is distressingly easy to find books dealing with friendship, love, loss, and death that are mawkish, manipulative, and moribund in soapish excess; so what a gift to discover a novel that limns so honestly, clearly, and cogently the arc of the sort of deep friendships that define a life, as important and vital (maybe more so) than any romantic or family bond: these families we make on our own.From the publisher: Before Everything is a celebration of friendship and love between a group of women It is distressingly easy to find books dealing with friendship, love, loss, and death that are mawkish, manipulative, and moribund in soapish excess; so what a gift to discover a novel that limns so honestly, clearly, and cogently the arc of the sort of deep friendships that define a life, as important and vital (maybe more so) than any romantic or family bond: these families we make on our own.From the publisher: Before Everything is a celebration of friendship and love between a group of women who have known each other since they were girls. They’ve faced everything together, from youthful sprees and scrapes to mid-life turning points. Now, as Anna, the group’s trailblazer and brightest spark, enters hospice, they gather to do what they’ve always done—talk and laugh and help each other make choices and plans, this time in Anna’s rural Massachusetts home. Helen, Anna’s best friend and a celebrated painter, is about to remarry. The others face their own challenges—Caroline with her sister’s mental health crisis; Molly with a teenage daughter’s rebellion; Ming with her law practice—dilemmas with kids and work and love. Before Everything is as funny as it is bittersweet, as the friends revel in the hilarious mistakes they’ve seen each other through, the secrets kept, and adventures shared. But now all sense of time has shifted, and the pattern of their lives together takes on new meaning. The novel offers a brilliant, emotionally charged portrait, deftly conveying the sweep of time over everyday lives, and showing how even in difficult endings, gifts can unfold. Above all it is an ode to friendship, and to how one person shapes the journeys of those around her.Anyone who has ever lost a friend will recognize themselves in these beautifully written pages resonant with meticulously detailed emotions, articulated in a time-leaping mosaic which reads much in the way life is remembered and experienced as we age; in a non-linear sort of time grounded in experiences and impressions, connections seen and discovered, how this thing in this moment reminds us of that thing from another moment, the threads sewn through the fabric of a life, and how keeping track by measuring seconds, minutes, hours, years, yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows gives way to an order dictated by emotional weight and impact --- this song takes you to that moment, and suddenly your heart is seventeen again.With artful technique --- not show-offy or obvious --- Victoria Redel renders luminously the accumulation of events, truths, lies, pains, apologies, compromises, surrenders, victories, and discoveries that make a person who they are and shape relationships.From page one we know Anna is dying, the virtuosity of this novel is the way in which it illuminates how the process of someone's dying doesn't begin with the diagnosis or end with the death, but, rather, like someone's living, goes on forever in the ways it affects others, the changes it makes in the world --- even in the world of the past and memories, the echoes of the moments of connection --- death reshapes all of those things. And, through the accumulation of detail achieved by short pieces of narrative so one is never mired too long in a place too melancholy --- the mixing of past and present, the concatenation of voices and perspectives --- we, the readers, become as hopeful as the friends that somehow, Anna will survive. We, like the friends, wish for magic realism --- a little miracle.Which is what this novel is, a little miracle of wonderful writing, interesting and human characters, and a heartfelt, moving window into loss and the ways in which even epic sorrow can bring new light and life into being, and teach lessons we might otherwise not have learned. This exchange when Anna is advising Reuben, her estranged but still very present husband, he ought to pursue a relationship with her hospice nurse: Then, out of nowhere the other day, Anna told him he should marry Kate. "You've definitely noticed her," Anna teased. "I know your taste." "Wow, now here's an excellent line," he shot back. "My dying wife thinks I should date you." He was taking apart the four-poster bed. She'd refused the hospital bed until she could no longer refuse. "I'm a real catch, Anna," he said. "You are a catch, Reuben. You're my only regret," Anna said. "I should never have let us separate." "Please, we both screwed up." Still, it felt good to hear Anna say, "I abandoned you first." How sorry and petty a thing was vindication. The ice trays needed filling.Such a trenchant, insightful journey in Reuben's mind, and a powerful realization: there is always the quotidian waiting; an ice tray to fill, a trashcan to empty, a next breath that need be taken. We go on.And as Anna's best friend thinks, near the end: Looking at the faces in the room, she understands that this is what we do. We are here. And then we are not here. For a little while, we are a story.Yes. This. And the story is both the enormous metaphysical and existential concerns, and, too, the ice trays. Victoria Redel captures this truth by telling one story of one particular death and life and the people it affects, in resplendent style. Truly lovely.
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  • Linda Epach
    May 19, 2017
    Five friends since grade school gather together for the Anna's final days in hospice. Book is told from each of the five's POV as we slowly weave in and out of the present and the past as their amazing friendship slowly reveals itself. Very much a chick-lit friendship quick read but each character comes alive on the page and every cliche is met so everyone can identify with one of the woman as they learn to let go and say goodbye.
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  • Laura
    May 26, 2017
    Won in a Goodreads giveaway, yay! Review to follow :)
  • Maria Basescu
    April 26, 2017
    I was so moved by this beautiful, poetic work of art, and powerful testament to love, humor, courage and friendship. Redel is an amazing and original talent, one of the most important voices in contemporary literature.
  • Laurie
    May 5, 2017
    A wonderful read about friends who come together as they have been doing ever since being young, to help their friend who is dying. "Ya gotta have friends."She has opted for "no more" and the "old friends" just can not accept this. There are flashbacks of past times and experiences as they learn to understand how to let go of of Anna and Anna says good-bye now.Thanks to netgalley for allowing me to read and provide and honest review.
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  • Ali
    May 11, 2017
    Sad. As blatantly obvious as that may be, this book was sad. But also deep, poetic, intricate, moving. The characters are delicately woven together in a way that makes you feel like the "Old Friends" are your friends. Reading this book was like reading bursts of poetry that compile a novel. In the beginning the shifts were confusing, but after the first few it became so rhythmic and refreshing. I enjoyed the cadence and looked forward to each change in inflection. Very well written. If you want Sad. As blatantly obvious as that may be, this book was sad. But also deep, poetic, intricate, moving. The characters are delicately woven together in a way that makes you feel like the "Old Friends" are your friends. Reading this book was like reading bursts of poetry that compile a novel. In the beginning the shifts were confusing, but after the first few it became so rhythmic and refreshing. I enjoyed the cadence and looked forward to each change in inflection. Very well written. If you want to read something that makes you feel something real, this is a great book! Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for turning me on to a new author, Victoria Redel's work was a breath of fresh air! I look forward to reading more from her!
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  • Bonnie Gonzales
    May 22, 2017
    Anna had her four friends from grade school who were still her friends now and they all want to be there for her now that she has a terminal illness, as do her new friends she has made in her adult life. Her illness is devastating for all of them, no one can bare the thought of losing Anna, even her ex husband. This book has managed to be both heart warming and heart wrenching even in the same chapters. I won this book from Goodreads and it was a wonderful read, however it did leave me with a Anna had her four friends from grade school who were still her friends now and they all want to be there for her now that she has a terminal illness, as do her new friends she has made in her adult life. Her illness is devastating for all of them, no one can bare the thought of losing Anna, even her ex husband. This book has managed to be both heart warming and heart wrenching even in the same chapters. I won this book from Goodreads and it was a wonderful read, however it did leave me with a couple of unanswered questions so I'm hoping that means there will be a following book.
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  • Robyn
    May 14, 2017
    Probably NOT the best book to be reading while recovering from pneumonia and awaiting scheduling for surgery, but the vignettes that make up the book are broken down in such a way as to have made reading it with a shortened attention span much easier.Did I enjoy it? Moderately. A group of "old friends" as they call themselves, gather around Anna who has decided not to try yet another lifesaving procedure when her cancer returns. Each of her friends try in some way to make her fight and then acce Probably NOT the best book to be reading while recovering from pneumonia and awaiting scheduling for surgery, but the vignettes that make up the book are broken down in such a way as to have made reading it with a shortened attention span much easier.Did I enjoy it? Moderately. A group of "old friends" as they call themselves, gather around Anna who has decided not to try yet another lifesaving procedure when her cancer returns. Each of her friends try in some way to make her fight and then accept the choice she makes. Did I feel like they were fully developed? Not especially. Noe of them will stay with me for long. there were a lot of cliche' in the characters, the artist, the lawyer, the singer, the housewife who never found herself but does after her friend dies....Beach read
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  • Maria
    April 17, 2017
    Review to come.
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