Before You Found Me
Author Brooke Beyfuss’s sophomore novel Before You Found Me is the highly emotional follow-up to her astounding debut After We Were Stolen, and, destined to be just as popular with readers. A heartfelt domestic suspense novel, this story is brilliantly crafted and delivered. While the story is dark and heavy, a message of light and hope shines through.
Rowan McNamara flees a physical and mentally abusive relationship with her boyfriend after his latest assault lands her in the hospital. While determined to press charges this time, she escapes to a friend’s vacant home in a small New England town for safe harbor until she can make her way to her estranged sister’s home in Oklahoma. Orphaned at an early age, Rowan was separated from her sister and grew up in the foster system leaving her no one else to turn to for help. While recovering at her friend’s house, Rowan meets next door neighbor Lee who appears friendly albeit wary. Not long after, she meets Lee’s eleven-year-old, battered and bruised son Gabriel – an obvious victim of child abuse who’s been locked in their basement ever since his mother’s death three years prior. Rowan and Gabriel communicate through a basement window when his father is not home forming a friendship based on mutual need. When Rowan finds Gabriel bloody and in extreme pain from yet another brutal beating, she’s outraged and quickly forms a plan to disappear with Gabriel to Oklahoma. The story that ensues follows Rowan and Gabriel as they begin settling into a new life while learning to live, love and trust again. With one eye on a brighter future and another on the danger they know is coming from their past, they deal with the repercussions of their trauma while living with the ever-present fear of being hunted down by their abusers. It’s soon clear their battle for freedom has only just begun.
Before You Found Me is an intense, gut-wrenching and heartfelt story about two wounded souls, both victims of traumatic abuse, who become survivors and allies in a fight for the future they richly deserve. Beyfuss has a gift for creating characters that speak directly to readers’ hearts by earning their empathy and respect – the kind of characters that linger long after the final page has been read. While this story isn’t always easy to read, it delivers a powerful message about the ability of humans to survive and flourish in the aftermath of pain, confusion and fear that comes from being horribly betrayed by someone in a position of power and trust. The author sets an escalating pace that rises as the danger and threat of being tracked down escalates. I enjoyed the secondary story of the broken, strained relationship between Rowan and her sister as they work to mend burned bridges between them, eventually coming to an understanding. The importance and meaning of family, whether chosen or by blood, is emphasized as are the implications and long-term effects of domestic violence and child abuse on survivors as the author explores these themes with grace and respect. As one might imagine, Before You Found Me is a dark, disturbing read; however, through it all the author focuses on the light at the end of the tunnel – the hope, love and kindness that comes with healing and daring to trust again.
Before You Found Me is a beautifully rendered, highly engaging and compelling story about the bond formed between two survivors of abuse who are charged with learning and accepting the true meaning of compassion, love and family as they reveal just how far they’ll go to protect those they love. While this book is dark, the author does a fantastic job of balancing the darkness with the light that comes with hope. Fans of domestic suspense novels and stories that tug at the heartstrings are going to enjoy this story.
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