In the book “Before I let you go”, by Kelley Rimmer, it all starts when Lexie gets a call from her myth of a sister Annie at 2 am in the morning. After 6 years of not communicating, Annie as per usual wants Lexies help, she is a thief, a drug addict and a liar, Lexie has done everything in her power to help her sister paying for rehabs and providing for her. But this time Annie is in real trouble, she is pregnant and in premature labour, Lexie has to choose between taking her to the hospital where Annie will lose custody, possibly go to prison but save the baby and her life at the same time, and the alternative is the unthinkable for Lexie.
The reader first meets Lexie at the beginning of the book, when she receives Annies phone call at 2 am. She says ” only one person in my life would call at that hour; the same person who wouldn’t hesitate to ask for something after 2 years of silence, the same person that wouldn’t give a single thought to the fact I have to be at work by 8am”. This makes the reader realise Lexie has most probably put up with her sisters problems a long time before this present phone call, the thought of Annie frustrates her and by now she is starting to get fed up by her sisters behaviour. The reader first of all sees Lexie to be a well established, successful, compassionate person with the right morals that have got her through med school and to be a qualified doctor. Compared to her sister Annie, the reader can instantly decide which sister has been most prosperous, the reader choosing to respect Lexie over Annie. However the reader learns Lexie discovers a huge amount of anxiety throughout her sisters addiction battle and final stages of her pregnancy. She fears her sister going to jail and the chemical endangerment of Annies unborn baby Daisy, and after she is born with the risk of not surviving with narcotics in her system. We see Lexie react to all this stress by wanting to be independent throughout it all, for example when she pushes away her fin-ace Sam. The reader may be able to relate to Lexies reaction to conflict, because it is very common for people to push loved ones away during difficult times mainly because they believe only they can fix the problem themself, however just like Lexie did they take on too much and try to solve everything on their own which causes further issues, in Lexies case with Sam. For example when Lexie says to Sam, ” Im sorry, its just really hard for me to share these problems with you”, from this the reader can understand that Lexie may feel embarrassed or worried for what Sam will think, she wants to help Annie on her own.
The reader may also relate to doing anything they can when a loved one is in danger. In the book we see Lexie trying to find a loophole in the system of law so that her sister can have her baby in hospital without being charged, sent to prison and having her baby removed from her. The reader may question why Lexie would do this, Annie is clearly incapable of looking after Daisy, she is addicted to drugs which is a huge process in itself to fix, but the reader can possibly come to understand that Lexie is doing this out of love even though it is most likely the wrong thing for Annie. We see Lexie become very attached to the thought of Annie winning her battle of rehab which could potentially see her reunited with Daisy. We as the reader learn that Lexie is the definition of adherence she teaches us love and compassion out of judgement and the power of an unbreakable bond between her and Annie that has lasted through thick and thin.
The reader instantly judges Annie, she relies on her sister and other people for that matter, she is financially broke, selfish, living in horrible conditions and now is in premature labour causing her baby major risk all credited to her use of narcotic drugs which has pushed her to a serious addiction. The reader may choose to judge Annie purely because she got herself in this mess, she was the one who chose to take drugs in the first place and from the readers perspective it seems she is not willing to fix herself whether thats because she is not strong enough or purely isn’t interested. The problem with this first hand judgement that a huge majority of the audience will be part of, is that we fail to be compassionate, take a step back and wonder what and if something or someone has caused this, caused Annie to resort to drugs. From what I have learned about the mental illness, “addiction” whether it is with drugs or alcohol or anything, a huge cause of this is, people running from something, choosing to numb the pain and failing to be aware or take responsibility for their feelings. The reader then learns later in the novel why Annie resorted to drugs, and I believe the part of the audience that first judged Annie just as I did had a major perspective change. We learnt as readers that Annie had moved into a religious cult with her mother who remarried after Annies fathers death, Annie was raped by her stepfather and continuously shamed by the cult, she suffered mentally from this for a long time and her escape was drugs. As readers we learn a valuable lesson from this story, we learn to be compassionate in any situation possible, to treat people with love no matter their state in life. Instead of classifying someone as a “druggie”, “alchy” or “addict” , we must look further, feel deeper and be willing to help someone in need, just as Lexie did. Society tends to discriminate mental health whether its depression or addiction, it is seen as a form of weakness, vulnerability and rebel in a negative form. I strongly believe this book is beneficial for a year 12/13 student because in these teenagers lives they will come across someone suffering mental illness, by reading this book these students are being shown to be humane, with the statistics showing mental illness affects one in every four people worldwide, by showing benevolence towards the struggling rather than instantly discriminating them we are making the world a kinder place. Because no one suffering mental illness will get better from being hurt by others and trying to fight it on their own, they need help and by the younger generation reading this book and learning compassion, love and mercy these statistics might go down.