Before Wings

( 4 )


Beth Goobie just might be the best YA writer in the country. She is, certainly, the most intense, most poetic. And Before Wings is, to my mind, her finest book to date. It is sensationful. The words glow and crackle like summer lightning, vivid and fervent. Again and again she strikes you down with a turn of phrase, and yet, miraculously, the writing never gets in the way of the story, which has the pulse-quickening pace of a thriller. Before Wings is many things: a love story, a mystery, a heartful prayer, but, ...

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Before Wings

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Beth Goobie just might be the best YA writer in the country. She is, certainly, the most intense, most poetic. And Before Wings is, to my mind, her finest book to date. It is sensationful. The words glow and crackle like summer lightning, vivid and fervent. Again and again she strikes you down with a turn of phrase, and yet, miraculously, the writing never gets in the way of the story, which has the pulse-quickening pace of a thriller. Before Wings is many things: a love story, a mystery, a heartful prayer, but, best of all, it is a marvelous good read. -Tim Wynne-Jones

Having barely survived a brain aneurysm two years earlier, fifteen-year-old Adrien, working at her Aunt Erin's summer camp, is caught between the land of the living and the spirit world, unsure where she belongs. Faced with the knowledge that another potentially fatal aneurysm could strike her at any time, Adrien struggles to understand the message delivered by the spirits of the five young women that only she sees - a message that seems to hold the key to the dark secret that haunts her aunt.

Beth Goobie is the award-winning author of fourteen books of fiction, poetry and drama. She presently lives in Saskatchewan.

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Editorial Reviews

"Full of magic realism and beautifully written."
"Powerful, sensual, thought-provoking and most of all, refreshingly original. Read it and let your imagination fly free."
Quill & Quire
"Assured and flexible. She masters both edgy, abbreviated repartee of teenagers and a lyrical prose style for describing mystical experience."
Children's Book News
"Offers remarkable insight and raw, true emotion for readers who find themselves grappling with more than the usual load of teen troubles."

"The book can rightfully be called inspirational."

Horn Book Magazine
"The aura of mystery and romance is aptly melded to the heady joys and secrets of summer camp."
Resource Links
"This book is good. Very, very good. Buy it, read it, recommend it. As a general rule, I make very sparing use of the 'Excellent' rating, however, Goobie's latest young adult offering deserves no less."
The Bloomsbury Review
"Beth Goobie unites her intense poetic ability with a fascinating plot that compels the reader to love, hate, and relate to each of the characters as they grow and change."
The Alan Review
"Besides a good read, there is much to explore in this novel . . ."
CM Magazine
"Masterfully written and a great read."
CITY Parent
"Goobie uses poetic language and well-realized characterization in this gripping story to recreate the intensity with which a teen lives life and...comes to terms with the possibility of death."
Children's Literature
This beautifully written novel follows fifteen-year-old Adrien for one summer, when she works at her Aunt Erin's summer camp. A survivor of a brain aneurysm two years before, Adrien is haunted by visions of life after death and lives in fear of another aneurysm. Throughout the summer, Adrien gradually learns to accept the pleasures of life as she meets and falls in love with a local youth, Paul. Her new commitment to life is challenged by a mystery with supernatural overtones that threatens her life with Paul. Goobie weaves the natural and supernatural together effortlessly in this novel, which features a truly engaging protagonist. 2001, Orca Book Publishers, $16.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Rebecca Joseph
Fifteen-year-old Adrien lives with the constant thought of her own death. Nearly killed by a brain aneurysm two summers ago, Adrien and her parents always fear "the Big One," a subsequent attack that her weakened blood vessels will not endure. In part to escape the smothering worry of her parents, Adrien goes to work at a summer camp run by her Aunt Erin, a brusque taskmaster who spares Adrien no pity for her delicate health. Arriving at the camp, Adrien is captivated by the mystical sight of beautiful spirit-girls dancing above the water on the lake who appear only to Adrien. Then Adrien meets Paul, an intense boy with a sixth sense, who has dreamed of his own death for two years—mysterious dreams in which Adrien herself plays the role of savior. The details of the plot are subordinate to the beauty of Goobie's poetic writing. Her richly sensuous descriptions evoke alternating shivers of fear and excitement, transforming the grounds of a summer camp into a magical intersection between this world and the world beyond death. As Adrien becomes drawn increasingly into the story of the five spirit-girls, she learns a sad and awful truth about her crusty aunt. At the same time, Adrien finds herself helplessly drawn to Paul—the description of their first kiss will leave readers breathless! Adrien grows dramatically over the two-week period covered in the story, leaving behind her morbid self-absorption to care about living fully, in the mood of the adventurous spirit-girls. On the surface, this book is an entertaining adolescent read with well-explored supernatural and romantic elements. Nevertheless, the deeper message, the whole-hearted grasping of love and life, surely willresonate with many teens. The exhilarating loveliness of Goobie's writing also will enchant adults looking for a book to stir the heart and imagination. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Orca, 224p, . Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Diane Masla SOURCE: VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No.1)
From The Critics
Every year, an elite group of students called the Shadow Club choose a lottery "winner" from among the student body. While performing duties specified by this club, the lottery winner is subsequently shunned by the remainder of the student body in accordance with tradition. This year's winner (or victim) is Sally Hanson, a seemingly average tenth grader whose significance to the club lies in her past. Beth Goobie reveals a society where fear and conformity rule the masses. This is today's high school taken to an entirely new level. In identifying Sally's dilemma, readers will find themselves in Sally's shoes, questioning what they would, or would not do in her situation. In any case, the end of the story leaves readers empowered and hopeful that maybe they too could take the risk of being themselves to stand up for what is right. 2002, Orca Book, 264 pp.,
— Amanda Halley
Two years ago, 15-year-old Adrien suffered a brain aneurysm that nearly took her life. Painfully aware that another aneurysm could occur at any time, Adrien has been angry and depressed. At the invitation of her Aunt Erin, she has come from Saskatoon to spend the summer helping out at the camp Erin runs. There she sees the spirits of five young dead women hovering over the lake, spirits somehow connected to a secret in her aunt's past. At camp Adrien also meets Paul, who first befriends her and then becomes her first boyfriend. Paul has been dreaming of what he believes is his own rapidly approaching death, and it's somehow connected with Adrien. Events come to a head when one of the counselors, Connor, starts to dangerously harass Adrien, because she has stood up to his bullying tactics. Connor and Adrien meet at night at the lake, where Adrien has a vision that reveals to her how the spirit girls died, and Paul and Adrien save each other from harm. The events in this Canadian novel take place over just a few weeks, but Adrien grows and changes believably over this eventful span of time. Like the mayflies that are everywhere at camp, she learns to appreciate whatever time she has left to her (the mayflies are a metaphor the author uses again and again). This is a dark but gripping story, with a lot going on to draw in readers, from Adrien and Paul's mystical visions to the aunt's secret, Connor's cruelty, first love, the threat of death, the nature of friendship, and more. There's lots to chew on here for thoughtful readers, and a brave and wisecracking if somewhat morbid protagonist to root for. (The book has a bit of profanity and some talk of sex, for those who need to know.) KLIATTCodes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2000, Orca, 204p, $16.95. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; March 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 2)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Fifteen-year-old Adrien barely survived a brain aneurysm two years earlier, and is haunted by the fact that she could die from another one at any time. In fact, issues of life and death completely fill her world at Camp Lakeshore, owned and operated by her Aunt Erin, a woman with a haunted past of her own. Adrien bonds with Paul, a teen who is convinced that he has dreamt of his own death and that it will happen on his next birthday. She also seems to be experiencing events in the lives of five girls, a group of campers who died long ago in a tragic accident. Anyone who ever spent time at a summer camp will recognize Camp Lakeshore, with its bad T-shirts, cliques, bullies, and time-honored rituals. Adrien is a sympathetic and believable character: intelligent, stubborn, funny, filled with confusion and doubt, but ultimately open to the possibility that she just might have a future after all. This could have been a terribly bleak and depressing book, but it isn't. Its engaging characters, realistic setting, and upbeat ending will satisfy teen readers.-Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781551431635
  • Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/1/2001
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: 690L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Beth Goobie is an award-winning author of a number of books for teens. Her book, Before Wings, won the CLA YA Book Award, was a Governor General's Award nominee, an ALA Best Book nominee and a Teen Top Ten.

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Read an Excerpt

The spirits were moaning, a low sound that seemed to be calling the storm toward the beach where Adrien came to a halt, pushing to stay erect in the wind. She was sure the spirits were calling something specific—a short phrase, several words, repeated like the lightning that snaked in the sky. Another sheer burst of white and Adrien stepped forward into the wild lake, the call of the spirit girls, the energy of their brains dying across the sky. Into some understood sameness.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    I agree

    Thanks for the warning got it at the library i hated it
    Zero stars

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2005

    Awesome...can't put it down!!

    This book is really amazing... pure poetry and nevertheless, it really makes you 'be there'... like living it. I coudn't put it down... I read it like in 3 nights... I would read until my eyes couldn't remain open. it was like I was Adrien sometimes Goobie really makes it believable-real.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2005


    This book was very awesome. I couldn't put it down it only took me like 2 days to read it. I loved it. It was soo descriptive it just pulled you into the setting. Everyone should read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2002


    IT was amazing! I couldn't put it down! You must read this book!

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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