#aww2018 · 2018 Reviews · contemporary fiction · domestic

Book Review: Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

Title: Before I Let You Gobefore i let you go small

Author: Kelly Rimmer

Published: February 27th 2018

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Pages: 384

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 5 stars

THE TOP TEN BESTSELLER. Your sister needs you. But her child needs you more… Fans of Jodi Picoult will love this moving page-turner from Australia’s Kelly Rimmer

As children, sisters Lexie and Annie were incredibly close. Bonded by the death of their beloved father, they weathered the storms of life together.

As adults
, Lexie and Annie could not be more different. Lexie is a successful doctor and happily engaged. Annie is an addict, a thief and a liar. When Annie’s newborn baby is in danger of being placed in foster care, Annie phones to beg her sister for help.

Before I Let You Go is a moving page-turner with a heart-pounding dilemma: Your sister or her baby. Who do you choose?


Kelly Rimmer is an author who is unafraid to tackle a very topical and relevant issue in our current world climate, drug addiction. In her new novel, Before I Let You Go, Rimmer places a microscope on drug addiction, the way it is perceived by others, how it is treated in the health profession, what laws surround it and how family members choose to deal with it. It is an edgy and illuminating novel that uses the strong bond between two sisters to unfurl an emotionally complex story.

Sometimes when you read a book you just inherently know that it will remain by your side for a long time to come. I have this gut feeling about Before I Let You Go, by Kelly Rimmer. I’m just so pleased I have discovered this brand new author (to me). It is a thought provoking read that challenges the very core of your moral thinking. Most of all, Before I Let You Go presents a warts and all view of addiction. There is a strong human element to the main character, Annie’s addiction and this is an account of addiction I have not experienced previously. It definitely challenged my own personal viewpoint on addiction, which I appreciated. Kelly Rimmer has produced a resolute piece of writing.  Rimmer is now a writer that firmly sits on my watch list and I hold her writing in very high regard.

Rimmer structures her latest novel in an interesting and highly engaging manner. We shift between two main perspectives through the book. In the present, we follow Lexie, as Annie crash lands back into her life, with the news that she is expecting a child anytime soon. In the past, we learn about Annie’s tragic past via journal entries she composes while in rehabilitation. This gives the reader a perfect insight into Annie’s frame of mind and helps to flesh out the reasons for Annie’s addiction. As well as putting the spotlight on the bond between two sisters who have shared so much, Before I Let You Go also includes an interesting by line on religious cults and the influence of the girl’s stepfather in this area of the novel. It added yet another layer to this morally complex tale. The plot is thick and it offers up so much fodder to discuss in book club situations.

Before I Let You Go also zones in on addiction and the various health professionals, lawyers, hospital staff and mental health professional involved in combating this illness. I feel there is a strong overarching theme on relationships. Rimmer presents relationships in many different forms in this novel, from the love between Lexie and Sam, to the sisterly bond between Lexie and Annie. Rimmer also looks the dysfunctional relationship between Lexie and Annie and their mother. Finally, when Annie’s baby girl enters the world, Rimmer helps us see how a new baby fits into the fold. I found these passages so very real, taking me back to my own newborn experiences with my children. However, Before I Let You Go is a whole different ball game. Lexie becomes an instant mother and she must contend with a newborn who is still working through the withdrawal process. Rimmer presents this with insight and sensitivity.

As a newcomer to Rimmer’s writing style I appreciated it very much. She has a great command of language, her writing is assured, but also stark and to the point. I was drawn into Before I Let You Go from the opening and I continued to turn page after page over, in the hope that Annie would be able to start a new life with her baby daughter. I don’t want to say too much more about this aspect of the novel as I don’t want to spoil it for potential readers. It is heartbreaking, raw and reflective of our current age of addiction. I wish we understood more about this illness in order to better help sufferers like Annie. The system that is present in some states in the US, where pregnant drug users find their children are taken away from them and are issued with jail time, is a different approach to managing this disease. I had not heard of until I read Before I Let You Go. I thank Kelly Rimmer for drawing my attention to this rule of law.

So many feelings ran through me while reading Before I Let You Go. I shifted the blame and my sympathy levels a number of times. But, what resonated with me most, was a heartbreaking scene when Annie faced such obvious prejudice, being labelled simply as a ‘junkie’. Often we see drug users in this light and we forget that they are someone’s loved one, sister, daughter, mother or aunty. It is truly heartbreaking, not just the user, but those who surround them. Rimmer works to highlight this in her novel, perhaps informed by her own family experiences of seeing her uncle suffer and succumb to serious drug addiction.

Before I Let You Go is a book that commands your attention and compels you to tread the emotionally fraught moral line in terms of addiction and pregnant users. The frank writing style, the here and now setting, combined with authentic relationships between the two sisters featured in this novel, makes Before I Let You Go a book I recommend many times over.

Before I let You Go by Kelly Rimmer is published by Hachette Autstralia. $29.99. Out now.


To learn more about the author of Before I Let You Go, Kelly Rimmer, visit here.

Before I Let You Go, is book #125 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge


8 thoughts on “Book Review: Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

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