Review - The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

Review - The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

Many times

when I read a book, 

I want to savor 

each word, 

each phrase, 

loving the prose 

so much, 

I don’t want it 

to end. 

Other times

the story pulls me in, 

and I can hardly 

read fast enough, 

the details flying by, 

some of them lost 

because all that matters

is making sure 

the character

is all right 

when it’s over.

This day

is like the best

of both kinds 

of books.

I could say the same for Lisa Schroeder’s beautiful, moving novel in verse, The Day Before. This short novel, spanning just a day, is firmly entrenched on my list of favorites. 

Amber’s life has taken an unexpected turn, and everything is going to change for her in just 24 hours. So, she heads to the central Oregon coast alone, seeking refuge. There, she meets Cade at the Oregon Coast Aquarium shark tank. He’s a boy her age facing his own “day before,” and the two spend their day on the coast together. 

What’s so stand-out for me in The Day Before, is the strong sense of place Lisa develops within such a relatively short novel.

As a native Oregonian (yes, we actually exist, people—our imported hipsters seem to think Oregon didn’t exist before they “discovered” it), I kept sighing at every recognizable site around Newport and the little inside jokes, 

The weatherman said

it’s supposed to be nice today.

A sunny day in March,

a rare treat for Oregon.

Next week is spring break.

It’ll be raining by then.

 And, honestly, I fell in deep book love when I read this, 

On the Oregon coast,

Mo’s is the place

for bowls of clam chowder

with paprika sprinkled on top,

and warm bread

with a flaky, golden crust.

Lisa Schroeder wrote a poem about Mo’s!

I am completely unable to form the words to describe how much this resonates with me. I know that sounds slightly (okay, a lot) deranged, but skipping school and going to Mo’s is such an Oregon teenage experience. And it just floors me that this experience is captured in verse.

And that’s what makes this novel so special—the little moments, the glimpses into the day before things happen.

Sure, both Amber and Cade are dealing with Big Things that may just break them, but the little things shine in a way that distinguishes the story and writing.The Day Before reads almost like a series of snapshots—yes, there’s a story, but when I reflect back on the book, what strikes me are the beautiful capsules of the day Amber and Cade spend together. 

For a moment

the air is pretty, 

sparkly,

and full of wonder.

But in a breath,

it’s over.

He flicks off the light,

leaving us in darkness.

“Was it as thrilling as you though?

“It was over too soon,” I whisper. 

In this way, The Day Before reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Before Sunrise. Just like the characters in that film, Amber and Cade are rushing to experience all the things, stacking memory upon memory upon one another. While the two stories are quite different, the urgency of the characters’ experiences is identical.

Amber and Cade both feel trapped, yet they do have options.

It’s just that the options aren’t any more appealing than what’s supposed to happen the next day. That’s the core of The Day Before,

At first it feels

like all you can do

is what you’re

told to do.

But then other options

start to appear.

They creep in,

tap you on the shoulder,

whisper your name.

Because there are always options. 

Because of that theme, for me The Day Before represents the best of young adult fiction

It doesn’t hold back from the tough issues, but never reads like an “issue book.” Instead, it’s smart and beautiful, lingering long after the last page is turned. 

Since there wasn’t really a seamless way to include this quotation in my review, I’ll leave you with this, 

Only skinny people

can get away

with wearing

skinny jeans,

which is why I don’t own a pair.

Short-and-stocky jeans

are more my style. 

FNL Character Rating: Luke Cafferty; Luke & Cade have similar qualities that make me love them both.

 {Buy The Day Before at Amazon | BN | Book Depository | Powell’s (they often have signed copies)}

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