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Title: Between Before and After
Author: Amanda Dick
Release Date: May 31, 2014
Five friends. Three days. One heart-stopping discovery.
Three years ago, Danny Morris left behind a gun, a tonne of questions and a gaping hole in the lives of those who loved him. What he didn’t leave was a suicide note.
On the anniversary of his death, his closest friends gather at his parents’ beach house in New Zealand’s idyllic Marlborough Sounds. Danny’s girlfriend, Kate, holds fast to his memory by continuing to live in the house they shared. Struggling to move on with her life, her blossoming feelings for Danny’s best friend, Finn, only complicate matters. Withdrawing from his high-flying lifestyle, Max has carved out a much simpler life. Self-medicating with alcohol, fighting off nightmares he refuses to talk about, the memory of finding Danny’s body has him sailing dangerously close to the edge. While Finn is finally ready to address his feelings for Kate, trying to save Max from himself dredges up long-buried anger and frustration that threaten to overwhelm him. For Lacey and Gavin, a recent bereavement gives them a heart-wrenching insight of a different kind.
Instead of time easing the pain, the group find themselves stuck in limbo, awaiting the understanding and peace that has so far eluded them.
Three years ago, a single bullet ricocheted through all of them – and this year everything will change again.
Dream Character Casting – Kate
Teaser – Kate
Motion sickness clung to Kate’s insides as she sat at the Picton ferry terminal, waiting. She watched as passengers, on foot and in vehicles, made their way out of the terminal and into the small township. She made a game of it while she waited, trying to spot the international tourists from the locals. Backpacks and matching tracksuits made it easy.
She crossed her legs and tried to ignore the heat that radiated off the concrete beneath her as she waited for someone to collect her. She dug around in her shoulder bag and pulled out a hair clip, twisting her long auburn hair up into a makeshift ponytail and clipping it loosely. The instant relief from the heat was blissful. Delving back into her bag, she latched onto the small bottle of water she had bought on the ferry, taking a couple of quick sips.
When she looked up, the Monaro was pulling into the ferry terminal. Her heart skipped a beat. She told herself that it was just the memory of Danny, lurking in her subconscious. Lately though, she had reason to doubt that explanation.
The chrome glinted in the mid-afternoon sun as the Monaro pulled up beside her. She stood and Finn smiled at her through the windscreen. Despite her best efforts, her stomach did somersaults. Since the almost-kiss at New Years, the nature of their text messages and emails had been tentative, unsure – bordering on flirtatious, even. She could tell he felt it too. It was like a game – they circled each other cautiously, but circumstances meant that was all they were capable of. He had Kelly and she had – well, she had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that made her wary. She didn’t want to make a fool of herself – or lose a friend. And then there was Danny.
Finn jumped out of the car, still smiling. “Hey, Red – need a lift?”
“Maybe. You offering?”
He winked and walked towards her, his arms out. The shyness suddenly disappeared and she gave a little skip as she stepped into his embrace, wrapping her arms around him.
“I’m glad it was you,” she said into his shirt. He towered over her and she loved the way she fit into his arms. He was slightly taller than Danny and that extra inch or so seemed to make a difference.
“I’m glad it was you, who came to pick me up.” She pulled away, embarrassed. “I mean, I haven’t seen you for a while.”
Staring up at him, with the sun behind him, his short brown hair seemed to glow, mesmerising her. She tried to act casual, but felt far from it. His blue eyes twinkled, clearly amused.
“It’s only been a month or so, but if I get a reception like this every time, then maybe we shouldn’t see each other as often.”
“Not in the least bit funny.” She smiled, reaching up to make sure her hair was still presentable.
“How’s the stomach?” he asked, walking around the car with her to collect her bag.
He deposited her bag into the boot of the car. “A bit rough out there, was it?”
“It could’ve been worse.”
He slammed the boot shut. “Max said it wasn’t too bad when he came across this morning.”
“So he made it?” Her heart soared. “I wasn’t sure he would – he hasn’t returned any of my texts.”
“Yeah, that seems to be the catch-phrase of the day.” Finn leaned on the roof of the car.
“Is he okay?” she asked. Something in Finn’s demeanour seemed to suggest otherwise.
“I think so. I don’t know. It’s hard to tell with him lately. You know what he’s like – he can be annoyingly cagey when he wants to be.”
“I’m just glad he came,” she said. “I’ve missed him. He’s been so crap at keeping in touch lately, I thought I’d get here only to find out that he was a no-show, just like at New Years.”
Her heart raced as she realised she had mentioned New Years – the one thing she swore she wouldn’t. She hoped he didn’t notice.
Amanda has outdone herself with this gripping and emotional story about surviving tragedy, finding acceptance, and learning to live again. While some suggest that time heals all wounds, this story will show you that is not always the case. No measure of time could adequately do what the power of friendship did for Kate, Max, Finn, Lacey and Gavin.
In the three years since Danny’s death, things have not really changed for anyone. Each is still silently living in the aftermath of Danny’s suicide and struggling with the what-ifs of the tragedy.
“It feels like we’re in limbo… just waiting for things to get better.”
What started as a tradition to commemorate Danny had become downright miserable for everyone. But Max seemed to be barely hanging on and the rest took notice.
“Danny’s decision haunted them more than any twist of fate or act of God.”
Determined not to allow any repeat of history, the friends took action which lead to some startling disclosures from Max and Finn. In the wake of the new information, these friends seek closure that can only come from talking openly about that dreadful day.
“Grief was more than a feeling, it was a process. It was something you had to go through – a journey – before you could put it behind you.”
My heart ached for these characters and the way they struggled to move forward. I wanted to hug them all and reassure them that the overwhelming void they were experiencing would only get better if they worked through the grieving process. At times, I wanted to shake some sense into them for allowing the grief to dictate their lives. But the reality of grief is that it can make or break you and we all deal differently.
This was a difficult topic to read about and I applaud Amanda for not glamorizing suicide. She was extremely sensitive with the story and yet gave us a realistic rendition of what it might be like to have something so tragic hit so close to home. While much of this story was spent anticipating something terrible, I was pleased with how things wrapped up.
Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars
*I was provided a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
About The Author
Amanda Dick is a night-owl, coffee addict, movie buff and music lover. She also writes.
Born in Opotiki, New Zealand, she is rather partial to dark chocolate and believes in the power of a good vanilla latte. She has a passion for the colour green (particularly in clothes and gemstones) and insists there is nothing sexier than a man in a kilt.
She spent several months traveling around Europe in her late 20’s (there’s a story there – she’ll get around to writing it one day). After ridding herself of her wanderlust, she met the love of her life (while working to pay off said wanderlust) in Edinburgh, Scotland. They moved in together the week after their first date – so yes, she believes in love at first sight. She also believes in Women’s Intuition and following your heart.
She writes on her trusty laptop, predominantly late at night, when it’s quiet and interruptions are few. Most of all, she enjoys writing about human behaviour – love, loss, joy, grief, friendship and relationships in general. She loves to put normal, everyday people into situations that will test their boundaries. She is passionately curious about how we, as human beings, react when pushed to the edge.
After living in Scotland for five years, she has now settled back home in New Zealand, where she lives with her husband and two children.
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