Book review: Before Ever After

Title: Before Ever After
Author: Samantha Sotto
Page Count: 296
Rating: 4 stars

Book synopsis:
Three years after her husband Max's death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max; same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose; he could be Max's long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well.

As outrageous as Paolo's claims seem; how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn't he looked her up? Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down; if it is really Max and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max's stories of bloody Parisian barricades, medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her "happily ever after." And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.

Book review:
Upon reading the first chapters of the book, I was excited on what will happen next because a lot of questions were built in my mind already about the mystery of Max’s life. When I reached half the book, I felt confused and it seems that things got mixed up in my mind. It’s like I’m time travelling with time then and now. After finishing the book, I was still a little confused because some things are still not clear but the ending was good. Max returned to the place where he valued so much because of Shelley, and then they meet again. Maybe I’d read the book again, to make things clearer. Just like watching movies, if I don’t understand some parts on the first time I watch it, I would watch it again to apprehend things more.

Most parts of the story were told in flashbacks, and each one reveals a new aspect of the mystery about Max. In the middle of reading, there are times that I wanted to stop, but when I stop, questions kept on popping in my head on what will happen next and what really happened to Max. I think the connected lives of the characters, and the time travels are the author’s way of keeping the readers guessing until they finished reading the book. So for me, I don’t need anything that the author could have done to make things more clear. I appreciated her style.

After reading the book, I have changed some of my perspectives in life. I realized that life is really short, whether we are immortal or not. Some things happen so fast that sometimes we feel like they really never happened at all. People come and go in our lives. There are people that we want to stay longer, but they go immediately and the ones that we don’t want to have are the ones who stay. Sometimes, they were like magic – it happens in a blink of an eye. So we need to appreciate every little thing that happens in our lives.

*Among filipino authors, I only read the works of Bob Ong. But when I came upon this book by Samantha Sotto, I  suddenly felt love for other filipino authors so from now on, I'll start buying Filipino novels as well.


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