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The Ethan I Was Before

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  1,544 ratings  ·  354 reviews
Ethan had been many things. He was always ready for adventure and always willing to accept a dare, especially from his best friend, Kacey. But that was before. Before the accident that took Kacey from him. Before his family moved from Boston to the small town of Palm Knot, Georgia.

Palm Knot may be tiny, but it’s the home of possibility and second chances. It’s also home to
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 24th 2017 by HarperCollins
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Eric Ellefson Just so we're clear, this is a book dealing with grief and guilt caused by the main character losing his best friend. The language used by the author…moreJust so we're clear, this is a book dealing with grief and guilt caused by the main character losing his best friend. The language used by the author would be low on my list of considerations.

But to answer you question, "Damn it, Ethan!" is used.

Like the other reviewers, I also strongly recommend this book. (less)
Courtenay No child abuse. The death themes are handled tastefully and with a sense of forgiveness, hope, and gentle overcoming, if that makes sense. I checked…moreNo child abuse. The death themes are handled tastefully and with a sense of forgiveness, hope, and gentle overcoming, if that makes sense. I checked this book out several times and finally cracked it open - worth a read.

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4.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,544 ratings  ·  354 reviews

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This book is really wonderful. I enjoyed A LOT. in fact, I more or less breezed through it, that's how well told it is. I imagine quite a lot of readers will like it. Especially the ones who adore more serious novels, because this one does deal with some serious subjects.

Is it a 4 or a 5 stars read for me? It kinda feels perfect, but then there's a tiny tinge of "perfect behavior" that did rub me the wrong way once and again... So for now, it's a 4+ stars.. If it turns out to be one of the unfo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carlie Sorosiak
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"You remember that, whatever happens. You are stronger than you know..."

It takes a lot for a book to make me cry. The Ethan I Was Before had me completely choking up. What a gorgeous, gorgeous middle grade novel. There is so much heart and love in this book. It's one of those novels that you just know is going to be on a "classics" list, and is exactly the sort of book I would've treasured as a kid. (And I probably would've begged my parents for a pet wolf and a pet alligator. Once you read the
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade-ya
"Sometimes a story is all you have...Sometimes that can be enough."

"Trying to destroy hope is like trying to clean sand out of your beach bag...There's always going to be a grain or two left."

Memory, story, grief, compassion, family, friendship, how to move forward when the best and worst are in the past. A moving, gripping book that will have you putting yourself in the place of Ethan, and all the characters. The last sections are beautiful.
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This hauntingly beautiful debut novel by the prodigiously talented Standish takes as its starting point the unanswerable question: what becomes of who you were before if you unwittingly do something tragic and irrevocable that divides your life forever into two parts, Before and After? The portraits of Ethan, his currently estranged brother, previously estranged grandfather, troubled parents, and charismatic but unsettling new friend Coralee are brilliantly drawn. Standish kept me turning pages ...more
Michele Knott
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What I loved about this story is how all of the story strands are woven together at the end. The ending really brought the entire book together and held a place in my heart.
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A heartbreaking, beautiful book of resilience, grief, and forgiveness amidst one boy's struggle with guilt. To help him heal after the loss of his best friend, Ethan's family moves from Boston to Palm Knot, Georgia. Specifically to his Grandpa's house. Where getting along isn't always easy. First-time author Standish has crafted a winning, emotional debut. You'll root for Ethan the whole way through.
Becca AE
Jun 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a page-turner filled with adventure, magic, and friendship while also dealing delicately with the subject of trauma. More than anything, the story is gripping! The dialogue feels natural and true to the characters personalities and their ages. The author shows a talent for writing clearly and effectively on a sensitive topic and young readers will surely see the connection between the story and the tough situations present in their own lives. This is a book that will help kids find ...more
Wow, wow, wow!!! I loved this story. Such a multi-layer plot with multi-dimensional characters. Absolutely beautiful. Ethan is a strong role model for our young people. A must-read...
Jurga Jurgita
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vaikystė ir paauglystė turbūt yra vieni gražiausių žmogaus gyvenimo tarpsnių, kuomet mažais laipteliais iš vieno laikotarpio keliauji į kitą. Tai lyg kelionė laiko mašina, kurioje esi savo gyvenimo šeimininkas. Kiek pamenu, būtent šiais laikotarpiais ir knygos buvo pačios gražiausios, mieliausios, daugybę kartų perskaitytos ir kurios dar ir dabar guli mano knygų lentynose, primindamos apie pačius gražiausius metus. Todėl šiais metais daviau sau pažadą skaityti daugiau vaikiškų knygų, jas aptarin ...more
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
Ethan Truitt, 12, and his best friend Kacey Reid used to have all kinds of adventures together, until one night Ethan dares Kacey to do something and, though it ends in a tragic accident, Ethan can't help but blame himself for causing it.

Now, his parents are moving from Boston to Palm Knot, a coastal town in Georgia, using the excuse that they need to take care of his elderly grandfather, but in reality, Ethan knows it is an attempt to help him come to terms with his overwhelming grief and his
Ms. Yingling
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Ethan and his family move from Boston to the south to live with his grandfather, who is elderly and having problems. The family felt they needed to move because something horrible and undefined has happened to Ethan's best friend and neighbor, Kacey, and he was unable to move on. His older brother is really miffed, and the grandfather has been dysfunctionally grieving his wife's death from breast cancer 30 years ago. Ethan manages to make a new friend, Cor
Wendy MacKnight
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
From the very first page, we are sucked into the mystery of what happened to Ethan Truitt's best friend Kacey and why it resulted in his parents moving themselves, him, and his older brother Roddie to a small town with Georgia to live with Grandpa Ike, who seems less than thrilled to have them there. Ethan is a haunted, broken boy, and his heartbreak makes the reader's heart break. Nothing his family does seems to bring him out of his depression and guilt, but a small spitfire named Coralee, may ...more
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I saw this book at the bookstore, I was intrigued by it because of its cover. I passed it by only to regret it later when I saw my Twitter friends post rave reviews of this book. This is my 4th 2017 middle-grade book to read and is my favorite 2017 middle-grade read thus far. The theme to this book is friendship. Ethan is a lucky boy. Although he lost one friend through a tragic accident, he finds true friendship again when his family moves to a new town. Love it.
Amanda  Schreiber
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book has been the best book I've read so far in 2017! It has a great central story about how tragedy can change a person but the twists & turns of the subplots wouldn't let me put this one down. I also enjoyed seeing a MG novel with a strong yet sensitive male main character.

Perfect for middle grade readers! Readers who loved Swing Sideways, The Thing about Jelly & Just My Luck will be drawn to Ethan's story!
Scott Fillner
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book is wonderful! It has an emotional story and is written with such skill and beauty. I can see pulling this book apart and using it many times over as a mentor text. I HIGHLY recommend this book to 10 year olds on up.

This book will no doubt end up in our Mock Newbery club next year.
Dana Langer
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A sweet, beautifully written story about grief, family, and friendship, this is a perfect book to give fans of Lisa Graff's Lost in the Sun.
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was so, so good. Definite recommend.

Ethan is not the same person he was before Kacey. Not even close. He keeps trying to run away, but his family always stops him. He thinks that if he could just get back to her, just one more time, things might be different.

But they won't. Because he's pretty sure he killed her.

His family moves away from Boston, and relocates in Georgia to move in with his estranged grandfather. Once there, Ethan meets Coralee and begins to wonder if he can in fact move o
Tünde Ecem Kutlu
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Trying to destroy hope is like trying to clean sand out of your beach bag,” she says. “There’s always going to be a grain or two left.”

with a different style and a capturing storyline, I sincerely enjoyed reading this. this was a different book but the ptsd and the grief elements were unexpectedly well done. nothing was too much, some things were too less but overall it was good.

“Sometimes we hold onto guilt or grief because it’s the last thing we have that ties us to the person we miss. We d
Carrie Cross
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Beautifully-written, engaging plot, and well-developed characters. The slightly depressing theme that never let up made it an A-minus for me. Interweaving more light-hearted or humorous scenes would have made it a 5-star read for this age group, in my opinion.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A perfect middle grade novel that's chock full of everything you want a middle-grader to experience. friendships, family strife, guilt-a lot of guilt, and natural disasters. I also loved the sense of place.
A good book about grief and friendship, with a likable hero.

Losing someone close to you is something difficult to deal with and I found it well addressed in the book. It was easy to picture how Ethan suffered, but also how it impacted his interactions with his family. Everybody was very lively and felt realistic enough, with some depth even if the family members were most of the time in the background. Which was fine with heroes this age and with Ethan being a little in his own world. If Ethan w
Munro's Kids
Can you please read that as 3.5 stars? A solid 3.5.

Ethan used to have this amazing friend Kacey and they were a fearless, uncompromising duo. But that was before the accident. Since the accident, Ethan isn't really sure who he is. He's had so much trouble dealing with what happened that his family has decided to pick up and move to a tiny town in Georgia. The line is that they are there to "take care of his grandfather," but everyone (especially Ethan) knows that it is because of him and his thr
John Clark
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Take two young teens from different parts of the country. Mix in plenty of guilt, several dashes of denial, a mystery or two, a rescue, some other young teens who are not so nice, an angry brother, scared parents and a hurricane. Mix well and pour into book form. Meet Ethan and Coralee. He’s just moved from Boston to a coastal Georgia town with his family after a tragic accident involving his best friend Kacey that left him so distraught, his parents felt they had no alternative. Despite the mov ...more
J.C. Davis
This book broke my heart and put it back together again. I wanted to stay lost in the pages with Ethan, Kacey and Coralee forever. Standish is a fantastic story teller and her characters are so vivid and memorable they make the story a pure delight to read, even when dealing with a tough topic like grief. THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE is perfect for fans of BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA or THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH. Like TERABITHIA the location of the novel becomes another character, so rich and full it's impos ...more
Destinee Sutton
Overall, I liked this, but there were a few clunky parts and when I got to the end I felt like I'd read this story before (e.g. Lost in the Sun, Bridge to Terabithia).

I think the first half is stronger than the second half because Standish is good at building suspense for the reader. Why does Ethan feel guilty? What happened to Kasey? It truly reads like a good mystery, even though it's pretty obvious where it's going.

The second half sort of falls into cliche-ville. Still, overall, it's a soli
Cheriee Weichel
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z2018-must-read
Emotionally, the book feels like it starts up where Bridge to Terabithia ends. Right from the get go Ethan is dealing with the loss of his best friend Kacey. We don't know a lot about what happened to her at first. We are just thrown into an emotional roller coaster.
The family moves out of Boston to live with his mother's estranged father in a small town in Georgia. Ethan and his brother Roddy manage to bond with their grandfather, but there is a lot of friction between him and their mother. To
Clay Morrell
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-2017
It's impossible to say how much I loved this book. Every word is perfectly chosen and perfectly placed. The story is one that will last and last, and the characters feel like I've known them all my life. To say Ethan has changed me is the honest truth. It is a story I'll cherish. Beautifully written, it is honest, heartbreaking and ultimately full of hope, as every story should be. A real must-read.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh, Ethan. Sigh. Hug.
This book has all kinds of fantastic storytelling going for it. It pulls at your heart strings with a weighty issue, but leaves enough room for the reader to wonder, discover, and grow right along with the characters.
This story will stay with you for a long time. Charming & deep; very well done.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Out of all the books I have read this year for my book group's Mock Newbery Award meeting, this is the book I choose as the winner, hands down. Ethan is such a relatable character for anyone--but most importantly for anyone who has suffered through a tragic loss. We see him progress through the stages of grief in such a natural and real manner, that he feels like a close friend and a confidant. The book is easy to get into, drawing us in under the guise of a mysterious incident that has clearly ...more
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Around the Year i...: The Ethan I Was Before, by Ali Standish 2 19 Jan 14, 2018 11:37PM  
NZ Intermediate S...: The Ethan I Was Before (NZSO July 2017) 1 14 Jul 23, 2017 03:32PM  
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Ali Standish, author of the critically acclaimed The Ethan I Was Before, split her time growing up between North Carolina and several imaginary worlds. The only award she ever won in school was for messiest desk, but that didn’t stop her from going on to get degrees from Pomona College, Hollins University and and the University of Cambridge. She still spends most of her time in her imagination, bu ...more
“Sometimes we hold on to guilt or grief because it’s the last thing we have that ties us to the person we miss. We don’t want to let them go, because it feels like we’ll have nothing left. But it’s dangerous Ethan, the never letting go because until you let go, you can’t begin to remember. And if you don’t cherish your memories of Kacey, than she really will be gone.” 4 likes
“Trying to destroy hope is like trying to clean sand out of your beach bag," she said. "There's always going to be a grain or two left.” 2 likes
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