cover image Before I Go

Before I Go

Colleen Oakley. Gallery, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4767-6166-4

Oakley’s touching debut novel follows Daisy Richmond, who beats breast cancer at age 23, marries her college sweetheart, Jack, applies to grad school, and generally moves on with her life until shortly before her four year “cancerversary” when she learns that the cancer’s back. This time it’s untreatable—her doctor estimates she has no more than six months to live. While Daisy once found it fun to imagine all the trips she’d take if she knew her time was up, she’s now more worried about what will happen to Jack after she’s gone—who will put his dirty socks in the hamper, arrange repairs on their fixer-upper, and make sure he eats something other than cereal. With help from her best friend, Kayleigh, Daisy begins searching for a new wife for Jack. But after scoping out dog parks, coffee bars, and dating sites, Daisy is woefully unprepared for how she feels once she actually finds a seemingly perfect woman for him and the two appear to hit it off. The story moves forward in the expected direction—even the twist at the end is not a shocker—but Oakley expertly tugs at the heartstrings with well-rounded characters and a liberal dose of gallows humor. (Jan.)