Indie Review: Before Anyone Else by Leslie Hooton
Escaping Quarantine with a Rom-Com Narrative
The premise is a titillating version of life before grownup responsibilities. Before Anyone Else, is one character’s journey through life and love. Bailey (Bae) is a late twenty-something with a trio of devoted men: her father, her brother, and her brother’s best friend, Griffin. Her men wine and dine her and treat her like their queen—a role Bae enjoys. Bae is a restaurant designer in New York City. Her career takes off, she takes a chance on love. I was titillated by the premise. It’s the structure that falls flat.
Phrases and scenes are repeated throughout losing their subtlety and charm. Bae may be with a different person or in a different place but the scene is always the same – liquor, food, and a man. The dialogue—perhaps a symbol of Bae’s climb to the top—is choppy and inconsistent. Meanwhile, the foreshadowing keeps you from having to guess Bae’s future. The bonus? You don’t have to worry about what’s coming next.
Bae is an on-again off-again hot mess; Griffin is her stalwart constant. They’re the perfect blend of rom-com chaos if you’re tired of life’s responsibilities and expectations. Before Anyone Else is a millennial-esque, easy read if you aren’t hung up on structure, depth, and insight while stuck in quarantine.
Article originally Published in the June/July 2020 Issue Summer Reads Edition.