18 May, 2018


Title: The Before Now and After Then
Author: Peter Monn
Series: -
Genres: YA, lgbt, Contemporary
Publisher: Pen Name Publishing
Release: July 28th, 2014
Source: ebook
Pages: 304

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Danny Goldstein has always lived in the shadow of his identical, twin brother Sam. But when a hurricane of events forces him into the spotlight, he starts to realize that the only thing he’s truly afraid of is himself.

With the help of his costume changing friend Cher, a famous gay uncle with a mysterious past of his own, two aging punk rocker parents and Rusty, the boy who will become his something to live for, Danny begins to realize that the music of the heart is truly the soundtrack for living.


EXPECTATIONS: I watched Peter Monn on YouTube for a fair while before I finally realized he wrote a book. I don't even know what I expected, really. His taste in books is interesting, his personality is pretty great too, and I already figured from the hour-long vlogs, that there's some aspects of his life in his main character here. I guess that's thus is exactly what I expected

THE WORLD: Indianapolis, new school year, half a year after the death of Danny's twin brother. In a span of, what, an hour? The whole of Danny's life crumbled to pieces. Life where he had a brother and loving parents. That faithful day he had to come back and come out to them. Instead he found them fighting over his father's affair, and his brother got killed in a car accident while coming home from park. All that thanks to a stupid precaution they took: Sam was supposed to ease the tension with a silly joke in case their parents got overly upset over Danny being gay. There was no reason to believe they would've, and Danny can't shake that angry guilt off.

CHARACTERS: Danny doesn't really know who he is, what he likes. His world fell apart when his brother died, and now that Sam's gone, his life is being defined by narrow definitions of "twin with dead brother", "living brother with divorced parents", "gay". But that's not all he is, and he wishes to find out what more he could be, if people just stopped showing him into these narrow frames. His new friends help out a lot. Cher brings out the best in him, the best character traits, in my opinion. She's protective and brave on his behalf, and instantly claims him to be her best friend. And then there's Rusty, the crush that broke Danny out of his shell. With drama burden of his own, Rusty seems to have had it worse, and thus... Well, honestly, I think he wears his pain as a badge of honor that puts him above others. 

ROMANCE: Danny and Rusty fall in love so quickly and so intensely, that I had no time to process it really. It's a beautiful kind of love, silly and sometimes blind, with slow steps there, and too fast steps here (like getting a puppy!)  

GOOD: It's a really well written book, and oh yes, you can really see Peter telling this story. The atmospheres he built, and sometimes those repeated sentences, quotes that happen both here, and in the vlogs are almost signature traits. The characters worked very well together too, each one from a very different background.

BAD: Rusty. I was okay with him for a long while. But then he turned and ran before even trying, because oh, the one time he did try - it failed. Damn, boy, how can you walk today? Anyway, he returned after realizing he's an idiot fully expecting to be taken back by everyone he abandoned. Expecting. I seriously liked the evolution of school bully more than this boy here, the mister "I don't know what to do, so I'll stand here and watch my world burn, and when someone else extinguishes the flames, hey, can we forget that I broke everything and left?" Nah, man, nah.  

OVERALL: This book might not become classics we're taught in schools, but it's a fine piece of literature. Very classy, very pleasant to read. I do really hope that Peter will write more books in the future, so I can read those too.

What do you think about THE BEFORE NOW AND AFTER THEN



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