November 2, 2022
Happy Hump Day, Book Family!
Today I am sending a big shout-out to ATRIA BOOKS for sending me an ARC of Jacqueline Bublitz’s debut novel Before You Knew My Name. FIVE STAR READ all the way, and guess what????? It just came out, so be sure to grab yourself a copy after you read my rave!
Bublitz’s book is one of the best debut novels I’ve read in a long time. The gist of the story seems simple —Ruby, a thirty-six-year-old woman, discovers a young woman’s murdered body in a New York City park while out for a jog. Here is the truth— this is not just another story about a murder. Instead, it is a poignant tale that takes an extraordinary gaze into the fragility of life, death, and HOW and IF we remember those who have left us to a brutal hand. This story is unique because it is narrated beyond the grave. You heard me correctly. Alice Lee is telling the story from above. The first thing this book reminded me of was The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Because I read Sebold’s book over 15 years ago, I will not even attempt to make comparisons. I am only mentioning it because it was a five-star read for me and narrated by a dead girl, which is an unusual way to tell a story.
Before You Knew My Name gave me head-to-toe chills while breaking my heart one small crack at a time. This book is a THINKER. Bublitz plunges into what it means to be human through the eyes of a young, murdered woman. Are the remains of a woman’s gruesome body all that will define them? How can one snapshot of what they were wearing or what they didn’t tell us what kind of person they were? Is that it? Can one heinous swoop of life erase all that came before? What happens when no one claims a nameless body? How does one thrive after a brush with a ruthless crime? Why do women have to change THEIR behavior to remain safe in this world?
To say I highlighted the bejesus out of this book is an understatement. Bublitz explored the powerful connection between the living and the dead by melding together two woman’s stories. To write from the perspective of a spirit or a ghost, if you will, gave her prose an eerie touch and, quite frankly, left me speechless in the best possible way. I realize this may sound a bit over the top, but Alice’s voice offered me an intense feeling of floating above the pages. As I consumed this book, it was like I was a bird looking down into the dark shadows of the story. There is an ache to Alice’s voice that I can’t shake, and to get a glimpse into her world before her death and on the threshold of finding a sliver of happiness… Dented my soul.
I can’t babble enough about how much I loved this book! Bublitz shined a bright light on an unfortunate and timeless tale of women’s safety in what can often be a cruel world. She draws attention to the nameless people swiftly taken from this life and those impacted by their inhumane departure. She looks deeply into the existence of memories and the human need to be loved. She introduced me to Alice, Ruby, and Noah…Characters whose stories will linger in my mind for a long time.
I will stop my rambling now. Run and get this book! The End!
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