Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Before I Knew by Laurie Gifford Adams

Posted April 6, 2017 by meezcarrie in giveaway, Laurie Gifford Adams, YA / 17 Comments

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about the book

Like many 16 year old girls, Savannah Cartright had dreams. She also had her immediate future perfectly planned in this order:

First, save money to buy Lacey, her dream show horse.
Second, earn a spot on the equestrian team at her dream college.
Third, meet the perfect guy.

But that was before she stumbled upon a story on the internet about her father who abandoned her and her brother when she was four. Before she met Chase, the seventeen-year-old her father chose to help raise instead of his own kids. Before she learned there was something she could do to help her father with his PTSD. Before she realized she held the key to another dream: reuniting her family. Before she realized Chase was the guy of her dreams.

Before she knew she’d have to sacrifice some of her dreams if she wanted others to come true.

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SERIES:  Finger Lake series
GENRE: Young Adult/New Adult
PUBLISHER: Windswept Publishing
RELEASE DATE: December 9, 2016
PAGES: 379

Other Books In This Series


“Sometimes the right decisions were the most difficult to make.”

I was not emotionally prepared enough when I started reading Before I Knew by Laurie Gifford Adams. Oh man! What a heartwrenching and inspiring book. I’m not ashamed to admit that I BAWLED through a couple of scenes. As a daddy’s girl, my heart clenched more than once at Drew’s palpable despair over balancing the risk of his PTSD with his deep love for his kids.  Wow. Keep some tissues handy when you read this one!

Though the book is geared for young adult/new adult readers, readers older than those target ages will still be able to find several characters with whom they can relate. Savannah and her brother Alex are typical teenagers (one nearly college age, the other still has high school looming in front of him) with a tragic past, and they must navigate some choppy waters as they seek to be reunited with their father. For his part, Drew is the source of all my ugly cries in Before I Knew – his story hitting me right in the feels. I seriously just wanted to HUG the man, but I don’t think that would have been well-received lol. Chase and his mom are equally intriguing, particularly as their lives entwine with Savannah’s. I wasn’t crazy about Savannah’s and Alex’s aunt, but their uncle is a sweetie.

The focus on PTSD and its ripple effect is eye-opening and heartbreaking, though the journey the characters take through it will also make your heart swell at least three sizes. Adams has a gift for immersing readers in the emotion of the story, and the result is a story that lingers with you.

Bottom Line: Layered characters with compelling stories are the strengths of Before I Knew – and readers will find themselves experiencing a wide range of emotions from start to finish. Young adults, new adults, older adults – each of these groups will find a different appeal to the story but I think all will agree that it’s powerful and important. And – from a favorite horse to the service dogs proudly spotlighted on the pages – Before I Knew appeals to animal lovers and the tenderhearted as well.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4 stars / All the feels

Reviewer’s Note:  Readers may want to be aware that there is some mild cursing scattered throughout this book.

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about the author

Book signing at a winery in the Finger Lakes of NY (Wine bottle was just used to display nametag… not consumed 😉 )
Laurie Gifford Adams grew up in the Finger Lakes, lived in Connecticut for 28 years, then moved back to the Finger Lakes, the inspiration for the setting of her books in the Finger Lakes Series. Because she was a middle school English teacher for 26 years, she manages to sneak life lessons into her story lines. Her stories tackles real-life issues such as bullying, autism, PTSD, death, volunteering, making good decisions, and trust, just to name a few. Each book in the Finger Lakes series features a service dog with a different task. In Finding Atticus, “Atticus” is a therapy and emotional support dog for nursing homes and for a teenage girl; in Over the Edge, Scout is the service dog for a seven year old boy with autism; in Before I Knew, Jem is an emotional support dog for a veteran with PTSD.
Laurie’s goal with her books is to raise awareness of the need to accept everyone for who they are and learn about their situation, not disparage them for it.  You can visit her website at

Laurie is giving away a signed copy of Before I Knew to THREE of my readers! (US only) Giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be read on the Disclosure page. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? What’s the last book YOU ugly cried over?

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17 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Before I Knew by Laurie Gifford Adams

  1. Okay:

    1. Girl who loves horses.

    2. Guy struggling with PTSD.

    3. Guy struggling with PTSD who happens to be named Drew.

    4. Service dogs (so smart and brave!)

    I must read this one. 🙂

  2. Marilyn

    “Little Women”. Beth dying was an upsetting read for me. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. Donna B

    I cry with almost all of the books that I read but I don’t remember the name of the last one.

  4. Kay Garrett

    I can’t say one in particular because I am an old softy and find that in most books there’s a spot that I at least get teary eyed. However, I feel it’s good to have emotional releases and if reading helps me then it’s another good reason to read some more. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 😉

  5. Carrie B.

    This one has to be on my Must Read list! Now I can’t wait to dive in!

    And last ugly cry read may have been The Shack when it first came out.

  6. Julie Jobe

    Renata and the Fall from Grace by Becky Doughty. I actually had to put the book down part of the way through and just cry for a bit before I could pick it back up. That was a very bittersweet book.

  7. Julie Waldron

    The last one I remember is Message In A Bottle by Nicholas Sparks. I had seen the movie so I knew what was going to happen but I still cried.

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