Amelia’s life is turned upside down during her final year of school. Her forty-seven year old adored father is diagnosed with younger onset Alzheimer’s disease and her best friend, Gemma, becomes increasingly distant and self-centered, and eventually hospitalised. Amelia finds solace in her artwork as she prepares her final submission at her specialist arts school. What should be a year of wrapping up schooling and dealing with the impending life changes that come with the final year of school, Amelia has a lot to deal with. Unable to control much of what is happening around her, Amelia decides to make a stand before the annual art show, causing many unintended ripple effects.
I love Julia Lawrinson’s work. Bye, Beautiful (2006) is still one of my favourite YA books, ever. Before You Forget is very different. It is set in the present day with real life issues. The embarrassment felt by Amelia from her father’s increasingly weird behaviour, and her own knowledge that she should be more supportive, is raw and honest. She manages as most her age would, maturing and developing throughout the narrative in a gradual way. In her own way of coping with her need of support and father’s health, she is unaware of Gemma’s slow self-destruction and demise. Lawrinson’s clever way of showing, not telling, has readers see this before Amelia. Both Amelia’s and Gemma’s needs for each other threatens to clash in a detrimental way.
This is an interesting read. While involving a devastating, irreversible diagnosis, it also contains humour and wit. Characterisation is strong and the narrative flows well from the first sentence. Sub-plots and minor characters are as well rounded and well written as the major players, making this, for me, an entire package. This book will do well in public and high school libraries.
Thank you to Penguin Random House for supplying this book for review.