‘The Ethan I Was Before’ – Ali Standish

Published early in 2017 I received an advance copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for my review – but hadn’t got round to reading it until now.

There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a book clearly targeting 8-12 year olds. It deals with some hard-hitting issues, but never in a way that feels too scary or threatening.

When we first meet Ethan he is a rather lost soul. Feeling desperately guilty as he thinks he caused his best friend’s accident, Ethan and his family have moved across country to have a fresh start. They move to the town of Palm Knot, principally to help support Ethan’s grandfather ¬†– but it’s all about getting a fresh start and¬†realising that no matter how far away you run, you still have to come to terms with your actions and their consequences.

Initially we are told little detail, but the family are clearly finding it hard to live with unresolved tensions. They circle each other, desperately unhappy, but never quite certain how to move things on.

When Ethan is befriended by larger-than-life Coralee he is reminded, a little, of how to live again. But she is also hiding secrets, and these threaten to cause real problems.

Watching Ethan come to terms with what has happened, and develop his friendships with his family, is endearing. There’s some dramatic moments, but – as you might expect – everything works out okay in the end and lessons are learned.