After a few weeks away, I’m finally finding a spare moment to finish writing about “Before We Were Yours”. After finishing the entire book, the main conclusion was that while the story was absolutely amazing it felt like I had just finished reading two totally separate books by two separate authors.
Wingate chose to tell the story through three separate characters, swapping narrators with each chapter to advance the story a bit at a time. While this technique has been super popular lately, Wingate just didn’t nail the character development, story unraveling, or developing an equal emotional response to the narrators in the way Small Great Things, Gone Girl or Girl on the Train did. With those novels, each of the narrating characters was equally written and developed. It was easy to find yourself immersed completely in the thoughts and worlds of each of the narrating characters. As mentioned in my last post, Before We We Yours felt incredibly unequal, almost like the chapters were written by different authors of very different caliber and then shuffled into place.
As a HUGE fan of historical fiction, I felt like Wingate would have written a significantly more powerful novel if she had unraveled it bit by bit in a more traditional story telling format. I would have even loved it if she’d stuck with alternating chapter narrations by Rills and May. Avery was by far the least developed character, the least engaging narrator, and essentially existed as a quick device to move the story out of deeper depths. Anytime something exciting was about to happen or some great secret was about to be revealed, the chapter ended and Wingate cut to some superficial plot line for Avery that meandered loosely back to Rills or May without ever returning to the big revelation about to be disclosed by Rills or May. There were quite a few ambiguities and plot holes that ended up being written into this story which would not fly if Avery hadn’t been tossed in there to distract us with reminders of her privileged upbringing, prestigious pedigree and Ivy League education.
Overall, I ended up glossing through the pages narrated by Avery, and sinking my heart into the narrations by Rills and May, which tells you how necessary Avery wasn’t to the overall plot line. I also would have appreciated more closure and finality for some of the characters who seem to ghost out of the story and are never mentioned again. Final verdict? 5 stars for the chapters narrated by Rills and May. 1.5 stars for the chapters narrated by Avery.
Until next time,