2020 Reviews · NetGalley Reviews

NetGalley Review: Before You Go

Trigger Warnings: This book centers on suicide.

Multiple characters talk about suicide,

suicidal ideation, and plans to commit suicide.

Several characters commit suicide.

If you are struggling and need to talk to someone I encourage you to reach out to your friends and family if you are able. There are also many resources available to you including talking and/or texting with crisis workers. Below you will find information for some of those resources.

I reached out when I needed help and even though I still struggle, things have gotten better. Please reach out if you need to. You are not alone and things will get better.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741

The Trevor Project

Trevor Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386

Trevor Text: text START to 678678

Trans Lifeline: 1-877-330-6366

It Gets Better

Title: Before You Go

Author: Tommy Butler

Genre: Fiction


In this “dazzling debut” (Publishers Weekly), the moving story of one man’s quest for happiness is interwoven with speculative tales of the Before and After, resulting in a profound yet playful literary journey into the ache and wonder of being human.

In the Before, humankind is created with a hole in its heart, the designers not realizing their mistake—if it was a mistake—until too late.

Elliot Chance is just a boy, and knows nothing of this. All he knows is that he doesn’t feel at home in this world, and his desire for escape becomes more urgent as he grows into adulthood, where the turbulence of life seems to offer no cure for the emptiness. Desperate and lost, he stumbles upon a support group on the edge of Manhattan. There he meets two other drifting souls—Sasha, a young woman who leaves coded messages in the copy she writes for advertising campaigns, and Bannor, whose detailed depictions of the future make Elliot think he may have actually been there. With these two unlikely allies, Elliot launches into the business of life, determined to be happy in spite of himself.

Yet the hole in the heart is not so easily filled.

Publisher: Harper

Publication Date: August 11th, 2020

Format: Digital Advanced Readers Copy provided through NetGalley

Where to Buy:

Elliott Bay Book Co. | Third Place Books | Powell’s City of Books

Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Amazon

Rating: ⭐️⭐️


When I first came across this book it sounded like uplifting exploration of how people search for and find happiness in life, and in some ways that’s exactly what this book is about. However, I was completely unprepared for this book to focus on suicide. Perhaps I should have read between the lines of the synopsis a little better, but even so, I felt blind-sided when suicide was first introduced in this book. And then it became very apparent that suicide was the focus of the book and that it would remain the focus until the last page.

Suicide is an important topic, one that is still not talked about enough, and I do think it is important to publish stories that deal with suicide. But at the end of the day Before You Go isn’t about the things that make life worth living. It’s about the things that keep you going until ____________ event happens, at which point it’s okay to commit suicide.

And I think that’s a dangerous stance for a book to have, especially when there are no warnings for readers about what this book talks about. The way Butler talks about suicide, while insightful, is also very harmful. This book was very difficult for me to get through and it brought up a lot of things I was not expecting it to. It romanticizes suicide and also paints it as inevitable for certain people.

This book should come with trigger warnings, both on the cover and within the book itself. I do not recommend this book for readers who are triggered by suicide, or death.

About the Author:

Tommy Butler was raised in Stamford, Connecticut, and has since called many places home, including New Hampshire, San Diego, Boston, New York City, and San Francisco. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, he was a Peter Taylor Fellow at the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop and is an alumnus of the Screenwriters Colony. His feature screenplay, Etopia, was the winner of Showtime’s Tony Cox Screenplay Competition at the Nantucket Film Festival.

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