(Review) Life Before

Life Before by Michele Bacon
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Pages: 288 (hardcover)
Genre: Young Adult
My Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis
Seventeen years is a long time to keep secrets, and Xander Fife has gotten very good at it. Everyone believes he has a normal life and a normal family. If he can just get through this summer, he’ll start his real life in college with a clean slate—no risk, no drama, no fear.

Even better, his plans for summer are awesome: lots of pick-up soccer, relaxing afternoons with friends, and an epic road trip. Xander is banking on some long overdue nights with his ideal girlfriend, the amazing Gretchen Taylor.

Instead of kicking off what had promised to be an amazing summer, however, graduation day brings terror. His family’s secrets are thrust out into the open, and Xander must confront his greatest fear. And survive doing so.

Armed with a fake ID, cash, and a knife, Xander skips town and assumes a new identity. Hundreds of miles from home and in danger, one thing is clear: Xander’s real life is already in progress and just getting through it isn’t enough.

My Review: 
This book was interesting in a few different ways. I really liked the premise and was excited to settle into it. Xander is a great character. He's smart and quirky in a few cliched ways, but it works for him. I've read plenty of books with a single mom and a teenage kid who's off to college after a lifetime of suffering.

Everything is looking up for Xander as graduation approaches. He's got his friends, his mom, and a date with Gretchen, the girl he's been pining for forever.

Until everything goes to hell in a handbasket.

After the incident, things for Xander get pretty bad. He's terrified and basically being hunted, not to mention, you know, the stuff that happened is pretty much haunting him too.

Xander decides to run away and it's pretty much the dumbest idea ever. He's got a pocket full of cash and a paranoid attitude so you can basically see where this is going.

The story unfolds fairly well, though. It doesn't show Xander's (or Graham Bel, as his fake ID says) journey as sunshine and rainbows. He definitely struggles and I think that part is very realistic. The part about a teenage boy trying to catch a criminal on the other hand was a little far-fetched. Thankfully, there isn't much sleuthing on Xander's part. He mostly worries about his friends, where he's going to sleep, and where his next meal comes from.

I liked the introduction of Curt and Kat. I think they were good friends to Xander when he needed them and I was a little disappointed at how we didn't hear much from them at the end. I liked Kat a lot more than I liked Perfect Gretchen.

All in all, this was a good read. It was quick, easy, and definitely kept my attention. The narrative was good, even for being inside a teenage boy's head.

Check it out in June.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Sky Pony Express for the ARC.