Life Before

288p. ebook available. Sky Pony. Jun. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781634506397.
Gr 9 Up—A riveting story told in a voice that will resonate with teens. Typical high school senior Xander Fife is looking forward to graduation and an infinite summer of adventures with his friends. He has finally captured the attention of the girl of his dreams and has been accepted into a prestigious college. From the outside, his life looks ideal. However, his carefree attitude and positive disposition are just a cover for the constant underlying fear he feels. Xander has a dark past that he has worked for years to keep a secret. When the monster of his past refuses to be ignored any longer, all of his secrets come to light in one nightmarish encounter. In a desperate attempt to unburden his friends from his troubles and escape his would-be killer, Xander flees to Vermont. Stranded in a faraway state with little money, the teen must come to terms with the demons of his childhood and decide what type of man he will become. Bacon weaves a captivating narrative of a boy who is able to journey into adulthood by overcoming a childhood filled with abuse. Though dark in nature, the work does not delve too deep into the horrors of abuse, making it appropriate for younger teens.
VERDICT A great read-alike for teens who enjoyed Alex Flinn's Breathing Underwater, Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, or Sharon Draper's "Hazelwood High Trilogy."

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