When I read the blurb, I thought Who We Were Before was something similar to Rabbit Hole; you know the Nicole Kidman-Aaron Eckhart movie about a couple trying to move on after their four-year-old son dies in an accident.
I’ve seen the movie and wanted to see what made this book stand apart from the theme of grief-stricken parents Edward and Zoe who’ve lost their two-year-old son as well.
Who We Were Before blew me away. I couldn’t put it away because no matter how hard it was getting to read and breathe at the same time, I pushed on to finish it. My throat closed up reading their experiences and how they were drifting apart.
Leah Mercer’s writing was beautiful. Who We Were Before is told through two perspectives - Edward and Zoe; switching between past and present. I can’t even begin to explain how bare and honest their story was because my family has gone through grief as such - twice. I can’t even begin to explain what grief of losing a child does to parents, because time and again I could see my cousin and his wife in Zoe and Edward. Losing a child is an irreplaceable loss that nothing or no one else can fill. It forever remains and open wound; sometimes it throbs till you can’t breathe anymore and sometimes it becomes numb.
Through their past and present narrations, I got to know what each of their actions meant and how the better-half interpreted it. There were many instances of misunderstanding because both Edward and Zoe were not willing to talk about their pain and kept running away from each other. When Edward escaped to work, Zoe’s plans were only getting drunk to numb her pain.
Yeah, you might think why didn’t they just talk it out-and-out? Well, it’s not that easy.
“But how can you help someone who won’t just let you in, but who is also lying to you?”
You can’t. Truth is, whatever Edward and Zoe were going through was real. Grief changes people/parents in so many different ways and I’ve seen it changing people in real life. I loved how Leah Mercer traced this subject with right amount of delicateness and honesty. As much as I loved reading about their past, I dreaded reading about their present because nothing was hearts and flowers.
A harsh truth they both had to live.
Overall, this is a beautiful book and sadly, not everyone will understand the deep-rooted sentiments and pain of Edward and Zoe. It is a story for mature readers who will appreciate the efforts, sensitivity, and Leah Mercer’s willingness for writing a book about loss and grief.
Get your copy from Amazon.com