The Ethan I was Before

Written by Ali Standish. Moving from Boston to small-town Georgia after losing his best friend in a devastating accident, Ali bonds with Coralee, a girl with an outsized personality whose inclination toward colorful stories may be putting both of them in danger.

Grades 4-6 In this moving debut, a boy tries to recover from profound loss. Ethan  Truitt and his family uproot their lives in Boston, after a tragic accident involving Ethan ’s best friend, Kacey, and move to Palm Knot, Georgia, to live with estranged Grandpa Ike. Ethan  is ambiguous about the  traumatic details, but it is clear that he suffers intense guilt. There Ethan  is befriended by Coralee Jessup, an outgoing powerhouse of a girl who reminds him of Kacey. While Ethan  struggles with uncomfortable home dynamics, he and Coralee find themselves in the  middle of a mystery involving an abandoned house and a box of stolen jewelry. Secrets—and the  damaging keeping of them—is pivotal to the  story. As a hurricane bears down on the  town, Ethan  finds himself at the  center of several painful revelations. Ethan ’s heartbreak is so evocatively conveyed that it overshadows the  equally sorrowful elements of Coralee’s own story. Yet despite the  traumas, this is an uplifting book  that explores the  way grief evolves through the  power of remembrance. — Dean, Kara (Reviewed 12/1/2016) (Booklist, vol 113, number 7, p57)