Reader Reviewed The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish

The Ethan I Was Before

Written by Ali Standish

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

July 2017 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Loss, love, and the struggle to survive the most savage of storms

A compelling coming-of-age story, an exploration of loss, and a gripping, multi-layered mystery, this had me hooked from the opening lines, and will surely be loved by fans of Wonder, and Louis Sachar. Ethan Truitt (twelve years and four months old) has moved from his beloved Boston to Palm Knot, a “drooping and faded” backwater. His parents say it's because Grandpa Ike needs their help, but Ethan knows they’re lying. He knows they moved “because of what I did to Kacey”, his best friend.

Being the new kid in class is hard for anyone, but especially so for Ethan, who doesn’t think he deserves friends, not after the accident he blames himself for. Then Coralee blasts into his life. She’s a whirlwind of a girl, a teller of big tales, a keeper of big secrets. Several mysteries are smoothly interwoven with the path of their relationship, and their personal struggles. What’s with the jewels they find in abandoned Blackwood House? Why does Kacey’s dad keep calling Ethan’s parents? And why won’t Grandpa Ike let anyone in his room? Poignant, tender, and budding with shoots of hope, this is a mighty fine debut about guilt, grief, friendship and healing. ~ Joanne Owen

Reader Reviews

In addition to the review by one of the Lovereading4kids editorial experts, some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel members were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here

  • Ross Dawson, age 13 - 'I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a story with plenty of twists and turns and who values the importance of friendship.'
  • Erica, age 11 - 'I enjoyed the book and all of its mystery...The adventure was outstanding and I rate it 10/10.'
  • Bella, age 10 - 'A good story with lots going on.  Both me and my mum enjoyed this book.'
  • Poppy Stephens, age 13 - 'The Ethan I Was Before brings friendship, love and loss altogether and wraps it up in an exciting story about secrets, dares and never breaking bonds. I loved it.'
  • Holly Wilkins, age 13 - 'A real page-turner... I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars because it is addictively good.'
  • James Boran - 'This is the kind of book that makes you laugh and cry and is not easily forgotten.'
  • Emily Pratt, age 11, Little Sutton Primary School - 'A great story with a really likeable character.  The little pieces of information dropped in make you want to keep picking up this book and keep reading.'
  • Christian Walton, age 11, Blenheim Primary School - In my opinion, it competes with books like Harry Potter. It's just amazing.'
  • Alexander Bisland, age 11 - 'I really enjoyed this book because it gripped me and kept me on the edge of my seat.'

Win the Skulduggery Pleasant series, SIGNED by the author!

The 11 instalment in the best-selling Skulduggery Pleasant series, Midnight, is out in hardback on 31 May. To celebrate this we are giving away THREE prizes of all 11 books in the series, SIGNED by the author Derek Landy and delivered in a special Skulduggery Pleasant tote bag!

To have a chance of winning one of these great prizes, click the button below. Please note that this draw is open only for UK residents and is free to enter, multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once. Draw closes on 28 June 2018. The winners will be notified by 12 July 2018.

Good luck!

Enter prize draw Draw closes: 28/06/2018


The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish

My dare. My friend. My fault. Uplifting and unpredictable, this poignant debut middle-grade novel is a classic in the making. Perfect for fans of Wonder and A Boy Called Hope.

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 the city he loves to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Ethan's new home feels like the place for second chances. It's also home to Coralee, a girl with a big personality and even bigger stories. Coralee may be just the friend Ethan needs, except Ethan isn't the only one with secrets. Coralee's are catching up with her, and what she's hiding might be putting both their lives at risk. The Ethan I Was Before is a story of friendship, wonder, adventure and ultimately of hope.


The emotional heart of the book is lovely. Book Bag

About the Author

Ali Standish

Ali Standish was raised in North Carolina. She has a BA in English and worked as a teacher and programme administrator in the US Public School system for four years. While teaching, she began an MFA in Children's Writing from Hollins University, from where she will graduate in May. In 2014 she moved to the UK with her Finnish fiance. She currently lives in Cambridge, England, where she writes, edits and studies books for children. She also works as a part-time editor at Working Partners. As a teacher, Ali worked with many children who had suffered a loss or trauma and who often turned to stories to help them navigate their grief. The Ethan I Was Before was born from those experiences.

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Book Info


400 pages


Ali Standish
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Orchard Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group

Publication date

29th June 2017




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