Hi everyone and welcome to my tour stop for Before We Were Blue by EJ Schwartz hosted through TBR and Beyond Tours. I’m excited to share my full, spoiler-free review of the novel for my stop on the tour.
You can check out the full schedule for the tour here.
About the BookBefore We Were Blue by E.J. Schwartz
Published by Flux on September 14, 2021
Get healthy on their own—or stay sick together?
At Recovery and Relief, a treatment center for girls with eating disorders, the first thing Shoshana Winnick does is attach herself to vibrant but troubled Rowan Parish. Shoshana—a cheerleader on a hit reality TV show—was admitted for starving herself to ensure her growth spurt didn’t ruin her infamous tumbling skills. Rowan, on the other hand, has known anorexia her entire life, thanks to her mother’s “chew and spit” guidance. Through the drudgery and drama of treatment life, Shoshana and Rowan develop a fierce intimacy—and for Rowan, a budding infatuation, that neither girl expects.
As “Gray Girls,” patients in the center’s Gray plan, Shoshana and Rowan are constantly under the nurses’ watchful eyes. They dream of being Blue, when they will enjoy more freedom and the knowledge that their days at the center are numbered. But going home means separating and returning to all the challenges they left behind. The closer Shoshana and Rowan become, the more they cling to each other—and their destructive patterns. Ultimately, the girls will have to choose: their recovery or their relationship.
Content Warnings: Eating disorder recovery
About the Author
E.J. Schwartz is a writer who loves cozy sweaters, skincare, and a24 films. In high school, she was a competitive gymnast and briefly on an all-star cheer team that was eighth in the world. Now that she no longer flips on a daily basis, she writes a lot about people who do.
After graduating from Susquehanna University with a B.A. in creative writing and a minor in publishing, E.J. went on to get her MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. There, she spent her time teaching, volunteering, roller skating, and learning how to grow plants. Her published work can be found in The New York Times, Barrelhouse, Threadcount, JMWW, Ghost Parachute, and Necessary Fiction, among others.
This heavy hitting YA contemporary follows two very different girls- Shoshana and Rowan- who met in a recovery clinic for girls with eating disorders and must decide if they would rather recover and reenter the world, or stay together inside the clinic.
This is not an easy book to read or a straightforward topic to deal with. There are vivid discussions and internal monologues about the psychology behind eating disorders and the thought patterns and habits that could see easily lead one down that road.
Before We Were Blue is told in two alternating viewpoints. First, we have Rowan. Who comes from an incredibly difficult home life where she learned her eating habits from an anorexic mother. She struggles with authority, wanting to progress in the recovery process, and feeling secure in her relationship with Shoshana. Then there’s Shoshana, gymnast and cheerleader who always struggled with “being in shape”. Together they develope a friendship that is simultaneously life-saving and threateningly codependent.
Both girls have their own struggles and the reader learns a lot about eating disorders and they ways that different people cope with, are traumatized by, and recover from such difficult disorders.
I did not have a lot of expectations going into the book but I was pleasantly surprised and gave it 4? and would recommend it to fans of Mindy McGinnis and Angie Thomas.
What About You?
Have you read Before We Were Blue? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!