“Before” is a coming-of-age story that follows several teenagers as they try to navigate their topsy-turvy lives in a small town. Bruce, a young man who plays hockey for a local college known as the Academy, finds himself entranced by a high school beauty named Brittany. Their lives become entangled, as well as the life of Tabitha, another young woman attending the same school as Brittany. These three, plus many other important characters, set out on several wild and crazy adventures as they navigate the murky waters and world of growing from adolescence to adulthood.

Mr. Kilburn is a master at writing character development!  Each and every one of the characters he creates in this story are well thought out, with an abundance of history provided. However, this makes the story too long, and at times it is difficult to plow through. There are some uncomfortable scenes throughout the book that may trigger some readers and disgust others including sexually explicit scenes between young minors (14 and 16), in a lesbian relationship, underage pregnancy, childbirth, and substance abuse. There are also scenes of slut-shaming and swearing throughout the entirety of this book. “Before” is a drama filled story that seems to branch off into separate backstories for each character. Mr. Kilburn deftly creates characters who are easy to understand as he delves into the intricacies of how their minds work. The relationships they have with one another are very well mapped out. This makes the story great for those who are interested in plotlines that focusses on relationship building, and encompasses teen drama, and adventures that young people experience from years in high school and into their college years.

Jennifer Shepherd