Life After Daisy: Before I Go (review)

Before I go
Colleen Oakley
Simon and Schuster

“It’s back,” Daisy Richmond tells her husband Jack. And with those words, the young couple’s life takes another unexpected turn.

Three years ago Daisy battled cancer and, so far, seemed to have won. She and Jack picked up life where they left off—Daisy doing graduate work in counseling, and Jack finishing Before I go his veterinary internship. They even bought a house—a fixer upper Spanish-style bungalow from the twenties, all stucco and wrought-iron curlicues and red-tile roof. Daisy has done everything she can think of to keep the cancer away: yoga, green smoothies, meditation. Despite the shadow that hangs over them, life is good and they even start to think about having children.

Every year Daisy and husband Jack celebrate her “Cancerversary” with a weekend away. This year is no different. Except that only days before the trip Daisy discovers her cancer has returned. In a whirlwind of appointments with specialists learns she has four to six months to live.

She cries. Gets an incredible case of the f-its and fills her cupboards with processed junk food. But Daisy rights her ship fairly quickly—at least in a state-of-denial kind of way. The to-do lists starts again: buy caulk, fix warped floor, call the plumber, find Jack a wife. Yep, Daisy is on a mission to a woman to replace her. Someone to pick up Jack’s socks, stock the frig with kale, have those babies. “I’mtyringtofindJackawife” she confesses to best friend Kayleigh. And so together they scope out prospects for Jack at work, in the bookstore, online dating sites. Daisy buys Jack Preparing for the Death of a Love One and leaves it on his bedside table. She’s got this.

Except she doesn’t. Because since she’s planning for Jack’s Life After Daisy, she retreats from Jack’s Life With Daisy. She withdraws. He worries. Life is pretty bleak. Until, as the publisher’s blurb says, “Daisy is forced to decide what’s more important in the short amount of time she has left: her husband’s happiness—or her own?”

I really, really wanted to love Before I Go. I mean, morbid though it may be, what wife hasn’t thought about this scenario, even briefly?  I know I have. Would hubby ever eat a salad again? Would he scrub the tub each week? Would he remember to buy the candles I love … and actually burn them? Who (surely, not would) he remarry? And on and on. But the novel never really came together for me until the end and the epilogue where the writing became more honest and less “chick-lit-y”. But those last chapters just might make Before I Go worth reading.

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