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Review for Before You (Before & After #1) by Amber Hart

Before You - Amber Hart

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews

Faith Watters life appears to be perfect.  She's the captain of the dance team with good grades and enough popularity that everyone knows her name.  But inside she is quite different than the facade she shows and it gets harder every day to keep the mask in place.  Once she meets Diego, it takes all she's got to make it stay and her resolve is fading fast.  Diego is an 18 year old Cuban who isn't taking to life in America very well.  He wants to go home, but knows that returning to Cuba is out of the question.  He has to outrun his past or the people he loves (and the one he's falling for) will get caught in the crossfire.

Faith is an intense character.  She strives for perfection because she doesn't want to put her dad through the hell her mom did.  She wants everyone to see how great she is, even if her true self falls short.  I can relate to that type of pressure and I can completely see how she fell into what happened in her past.  The desire to experiment is normal, she just got a bit too carried away.  And Diego pushes her buttons like no one else.  

Speaking of Diego, I'm a bit on the fence about him.  I like him and I understand his side of things, but I didn't quite love him like I wanted to.  He's an enjoyable character with a nasty past trying to rise above it for his father's sake.  If you are a fan of the whole bad boy thing then you'll adore him, but I'm kinda over that.  I'm also over the whole he's so hot he's smoking thing.  I crave something a bit more realistic these days, but it didn't bug me a bunch, just a little.

I only had two issues with this.  The first is that the relationship between Faith and Diego felt a little rushed.  Maybe I read it wrong, but it came off to me as a matter of weeks, maybe a month, with them playing the breaking up and getting back together game multiple times.  I'm not a fan of the whole off and on thing.  Either you want it or you don't.  Pick one and stick to it.  My irritation is dampened a bit by the fact that Faith's reasoning is pretty understandable and I get the struggle she's going through.  Even with that though, you either want him enough to fight for him or you don't.  There is no in between.

The other issue is a bit spoilery, but let's just say that when you get there, you'll know why I was ready to throw it across the room.  BUT, IT'S NOT REAL.  It's not what you think and Hart does fix it by the end.  Had she not, this book would have received a one bow rating and a scathing review filled with swear words and angry gifs.  

On a whole, I really loved this.  It had issues and elements I wasn't entirely crazy about, but it has that up all night because I have to know what happens next quality.  Though I wasn't a huge Diego fan, I still wanted them to end up together and find a way to make it work.  I think all contemporary YA fans will love this, especially Simone Elkeles fans.  This feels like something she would have wrote.  It reminds me a great deal of her Perfect Chemistry series.

****Thank you to KTeen for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review****

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