I read ‘Everything That Came Before Grace’ for Rosie’s Book Review Team.
A single-father comes of age as he discovers whether it’s love or fatherhood that could save him. Haunted by his mother’s death and a series of serendipitous events from his past, Benjamin Bradford desperately tries to keep his mental illness under control while raising his daughter Sophia. Set against the iconic streets of Los Angeles, there’s music always playing, heavy therapy sessions and private emails to discern, shattered friendships and betrayal, and the specter of a true love that got away. An insightful and unique male perspective on the inner struggles of parenting seldom on display. Think: “Silver Linings Playbook” meets “High Fidelity” with a dash of “Eighth Grade.” Can Benjamin find redemption? Can he escape his demons and find love again? Come along for the ride and find out.
Benjamin is a single father, bringing up his daughter Sophia alone. He is struggling with his mental health, coming to terms with the impact his mother’s issues had on his childhood, and also getting over the fact that his past ‘true love’ has ended up marrying his best friend.
So he’s struggling in the face of loss, betrayal, stress, all those ups and downs of normal life, and then some.
The narrative spans the years of Sophia’s childhood, with flashbacks to Benjamin’s time in college, his friendship with love of his life Anna and their best friend Keith and his relationship with Sophia’s mother. He’s one of those characters that you don’t know whether to hug or shake! But he is honest, about his faults as well as the faults in those around him.
One of the most poignant things about the narrative was the way in which he has to accept that Sophia is growing up, and, as a result, growing apart from him. This is written with honesty and empathy.
The author has a background in the music business and he includes references to lots of bands, albums and songs throughout. I have quite an eclectic taste in music and I did enjoy this aspect – to an extent. There were times when it get in the way of the story and did feel as though it was there for the author’s benefit not the reader’s – not for the purpose of the story.
There were times too when things were a bit slow, a bit drawn out, and I did occasionally find myself skipping ahead. All in all though this is a very good read, heartfelt, honest, and engaging.