The Ethan I Was Before

368p. ebook available. HarperCollins. Jan. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062433381.
Gr 4–6—Ethan and his family relocate from Boston to Palm Knot, GA, ostensibly to help Ethan's grandfather as he gets older. Yet it quickly becomes clear that the real reason is Ethan; he has experienced a tragic incident involving his best friend Kasey, and his parents think a new place will bring a new start. On top of Ethan's guilt from the accident, he must make new friends at school, deal with his brother Roddie's dissatisfaction with their new home, and witness the arguments between his mother and grandfather, who don't get along for mysterious reasons. This title is packed with conflict and familial and personal strife. Debut author Standish skillfully weaves the events and characters into the fabric of a story that is emotionally charged and well-developed. Ethan is a sensitive and lost soul, grappling with the emotions of a typical adolescent boy and the turmoil of a traumatic event. His new friend Coralee is exciting and enticing and the kind of friend any young person might wish for or strive to be. Ethan's grandfather is also an amusing and fascinating character, wise and sympathetic to the struggling Ethan. As the mysteries unfold—What was the accident, and how did Kasey get hurt? Who is the mystery woman in the creepy house down the lane? Why don't Grandpa and Ethan's mother get along?—there is never a dull moment, and the rapid pace keeps readers engaged.
VERDICT Ambitious but never convoluted, this novel is a fine addition to middle grade collections, especially those seeking nuanced realistic fiction.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing