Hello everyone! Today is my stop on the Before We Were Blue Blog Tour hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours! A big thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours as well as the author and publisher for providing me with an early copy of this book!
Title: Before We Were Blue
Author: E.J. Schwartz
Publisher: North Star Editions
Release Date: September 14th, 2021
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Content Warnings: Eating disorder recovery
Get healthy on their own—or stay sick together?
At Recovery and Relief, a treatment center for girls with eating disorders, the first thing Shoshana Winnick does is attach herself to vibrant but troubled Rowan Parish. Shoshana—a cheerleader on a hit reality TV show—was admitted for starving herself to ensure her growth spurt didn’t ruin her infamous tumbling skills. Rowan, on the other hand, has known anorexia her entire life, thanks to her mother’s “chew and spit” guidance. Through the drudgery and drama of treatment life, Shoshana and Rowan develop a fierce intimacy—and for Rowan, a budding infatuation, that neither girl expects.
As “Gray Girls,” patients in the center’s Gray plan, Shoshana and Rowan are constantly under the nurses’ watchful eyes. They dream of being Blue, when they will enjoy more freedom and the knowledge that their days at the center are numbered. But going home means separating and returning to all the challenges they left behind. The closer Shoshana and Rowan become, the more they cling to each other—and their destructive patterns. Ultimately, the girls will have to choose: their recovery or their relationship.
One: The Girl’s Healing Journey
Throughout this book, We see Rowan and Shoshana’s journey as they go through the healing process. It’s beautifully shown portraying the Ups and downs of their healing and that it’s not that easy.
It takes time to get healthy, and through this book, we see how each of them takes their approach towards healing. Neither of them went through a fast healing process and didn’t just suddenly just better. The characters had to decide for themselves if they were willing to improve.
Two: The Brilliant Portrayal of Eating Disorder
Schwartz did a fantastic job of portraying eating disorders and the struggles it takes to get better. I have never had an eating disorder, so I can’t speak to the accuracy there, but after doing some research, this book follows many of the guidelines outlined by professionals.
The setting of this book mainly takes place eating disorder treatment center, and it was eye-opening to see what the treatment style was like for those suffering from eating disorders. We got to see the ups and downs of eating disorders all happening in the treatment center.
Three: The Writing Style
The writing style was very different from other books I have read in the past. Shoshana’s chapters weren’t anything new, but Rowan’s were fresh and original.
Rowan’s chapters were letters composed to Shoshana. From this type of writing, we got to see how Rowan viewed the world and how she viewed her relationship with Shoshana. We got to jump into Rowan’s head and get a sense of where her feelings came from. We saw her pains, struggles, and jealousy. I found it to be an original concept executed well.
Four: The Cheerleading and Reality TV Subplot
One of our main characters, Shoshana, is a cast member on a reality cheerleading competition show. Within the main story, we get interjects of the reality TV Subplot through. It added more depth to Shoshana’s character allowing us to see her life outside the treatment facility.
We were able to the harsh realities of being in the spotlight and what comes along. We were able to see that it’s a lot of pressure when you have a perfectionist coach, a massive amount of adoring fans, and having to be perfect every time you are on camera.
Five: The Asexual Representation
If you don’t know this, Asexual Representation in YA is very rare. It’s almost like a rare action card that is super hard to find, and you have to buy many packages till you find it.
Of course, this shouldn’t be the case because YA books should have all types of representation. Readers should be able to see themselves represented in books.
I’m not going to say which character because that would be a huge spoiler, but I love how we got to see the character research different sexualities within the asexual spectrum. Readers can connect to this because many YA readers, typically in the ranges of 12-18 are still exploring their sexualities and finding out who they are.
One: The eating disorder rep is so portrayed brilliantly and written with no glamour, which I admire!
Two: When Shoshana said Rowan was a morning person, I was like, “Me too, girl!” And all the ways Rowan tried to wake her up had me cracking up.
Three: I like how Rowan’s chapters are like writing to Shoshana, it’s a different format from what I usually read, and it gives insightful information into Rowan’s view of the world.
Four: Shoshana’s cheerleading coach seems terrifying, and I would not mess with her.
Five: Why did the nurse have blood on her hands?!? That’s a bit concerning…
Six: I’m curious to find out more about the blues and the differences between the grays.
Seven: Rowan and Shoshana have been through so much. I wish I could hug them and help them get better.
Eight: I hate how the Cheerleading reality people are already sucking her back into the show. Give her a break, please!
Nine: I loved how they compared the cheerleading show to Dance Moms. Honestly, It’s a pretty great comparison to make
Ten: That was such a good moment. I’m glad that we get to see her true colors
Eleven: The cheerleading coaches are so brutal. Like you don’t have to be that extreme, and the moves they do seem very dangerous
Twelve: We have an Asexual rep in this book, and I’m so glad! There is rarely any Asexual rep in YA books, so I’m glad to see it represented
Thirteen: That must have been so scary to witness, and I’m happy she’s okay now.
Fourteen: What does the crew expect when you give a camera to teenagers?!? Did they think they would answer the questions?!?
Fifteen: I started getting teary-eyed at the end. This rarely happens.
A quick notice: There are subtle anti-Semitic phrases in this book. The author is Jewish, and I am not, so I don’t feel it’s my place to say anything.
E.J. Schwartz is a writer who loves cozy sweaters, skincare, and a24 films. In high school, she was a competitive gymnast and briefly on an all-star cheer team that was eighth in the world. Now that she no longer flips on a daily basis, she writes a lot about people who do.
After graduating from Susquehanna University with a B.A. in creative writing and a minor in publishing, E.J. went on to get her MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. There, she spent her time teaching, volunteering, roller skating, and learning how to grow plants. Her published work can be found in The New York Times, Barrelhouse, Threadcount, JMWW, Ghost Parachute, and Necessary Fiction, among others.
Be sure to check out the rest of the TBR and Beyond blog tour for Before We Were Blue! You can check the schedule down below! There are some amazing bloggers and bookstagrammers on here that you should check out!