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Before My Eyes by Caroline Bock

Before My Eyes

by Caroline Bock

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Full confession: my novel ( )
  cabockwrites | May 5, 2016 |
What to say about a book that revolves around three characters, especially when you didn’t particularly care about any of those characters? I’m not sure. I mean, there were some interesting bits here and there, but overall, I found this book to be very forgettable.

This is a SPOILER, but not terribly, because you’ll find out within the first twenty pages: there’s a shooting at a political rally for a state senator facing reelection. The viewpoint chapters are told by the senator’s son, the shooter, and their mutual love interest. The author tells things about each of the characters (family troubles, personal insecurities, etc.), but I didn’t find much emotion in the pages of this book. I felt like I watched these three young adults in action for hours without really getting to know them, and I didn’t find that to be interesting at all.

The middle of the book (and the vast majority of it, at that) takes place in the three days prior to the rally. Here’s the problem with that: the three days prior to the rally aren’t really related to the rally, so if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself thinking, Why am I reading this? Is it supposed to explain something? I could see where things were going, because I was given that information up front, but I didn’t feel any sense of suspense or foreboding or anything like that. (Maybe that’s because I didn’t really care about what happened to the characters?)

Are you ready for the biggest disappointment in this book? (It was an ARC, so I guess this could be remedied before publication, and I do hope that it is.) There’s an Edgar Allan Poe quote attributed to none other than my beloved LEWIS CARROLL! It’s recurring, too — mentioned twice, with additional dialogue about Alice in Wonderland, so it wasn’t a slip of the pen or something. Anyone who’s actually read Alice in Wonderland should know that that “dream within a dream” line can’t be found in its pages. Grrr.

Even though I didn’t like it, I have to admit that this book has a couple of redeeming factors: There are some beautiful descriptive passages, but again, they’re fleeting. They do portray summer days and nights on Long Island well, though. Also, the Barkley scenes are chilling and once or twice are actually a little terrifying. But being inside the head of a paranoid schizophrenic for a few scenes, and seeing some of the paths the human brain can take, isn’t enough of a reason to read an entire novel, in my opinion.

All in all: Not the worst thing I’ve read this year, but still, it’s only so-so. I’d say skip it. ( )
  KellyWoodward | Feb 17, 2014 |
I wanted to read Before My Eyes because I loved the synopsis. It has a sick mom, a girl who is taking care of her sister, a mental illness and drug addiction. All tough issues that even singularly would grab my attention but I had great hopes that together they would be even more powerful.
I know that Barkley is schizophrenia but the style of writing and they way that his head worked really threw me when I first started. I guess that makes it even more authentic since his mind wouldn't work anywhere similar to mine, but the intro we get def made me wonder what the tie between the three are and what would come from the events.
We go back to "before" so that we can discover what happened. I think that works okay because my interest is def peaked for what got Max going and if there's hope for him as well as what happens.
Claire was my favorite probably because it was easiest to relate to her, not only because she is a girl, but because of the responsibility on her shoulders. I see a lot of her struggles in myself both now and when I was her age even though circumstances are different. She had a struggle with how her mom's illness effected the family and if there was anything she could have done to change what happened. She loves her sister, but it is a lot of stuff to deal with when she just wanted to have fun.
Max's story unfolded a little more slowly. We know his father is a politician and kinda strict with him as far as expectations. I got to like him though. He had a lot of expectation, and he is beginning to see that life isn't all black and white, that some of the people he thought was his friends disappointed him, and found friends in the most unlikely places.
It was neat how their stories all wove together, more so than it first appeared. Innocent and then bigger ties to one another through living in the same town their road ran more and more parallel.
The ending was shocking and emotional, but I think that with all of the build up I could expect nothing less from where the book was leading. It felt realistic to me, and though it gave a dark feel to the book, those themes are there all along and even in the synopsis.

Bottom Line: Dark journey into three different protagonists--whose lives are connected even if they didn't know it at first. ( )
1 vote brandileigh2003 | Jan 26, 2014 |
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To Mark, Susan, and David
First words
Mark the date.
Mark the date. Labor Day. Monday. Nine fifty-eight in the morning. Today I am a lens, a pen, a gun.
RIP by Claire Wallace
Rip out my heart/Eat it/Go ahead/Does it need salt?/Or is it sweet?/I bet it's bloody and bitter/and better-tasting than/any other part of me.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The end of a long, hot summer hurls the fates of three young people together...and changes their lives forever.
Haiku summary
Free, untouched Freely—
unmasked, understood. Freedom—
undone, unraveled.

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Told in three separate voices, dreamy Claire, seventeen, with her complicated home and love life, shy Max, also seventeen, a state senator's son whose parents are too focused on the next election to see his pain, and twenty-one-year-old paranoid schizophrenic Barkley teeter on the brink of destruction.… (more)

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