Kicking off Fierce Ink Press Takeover Week is Chad Pelley’s Before I Was Me. A quick description of what a ‘Fierce Short’ is before I get started on my review. To quote from the Fierce Ink Press website, “Fierce Shorts are creative non-fiction pieces about all things teen. Love, friends, school, family, fitting in, standing out. For some it’s a trip down memory lane, for others it’s a breath of relief that they aren’t alone”
Chad Pelley’s starts off his non-fiction piece, Before I Was Me, by glancing across the grocery store and seeing a woman buying bread. Normally he wouldn’t stop dead in his tracks at something so normal, but this woman has a connection to his past. She brings back a flood of memories to his years as a sixteen year old. A time when love and emotions were at an extreme high and the easiest way to communicate with each other was in the form of detailed notes that are folded into intricate pieces of orgami. You see, the daughter of the woman buying bread was a girl named Dani and Dani was a punk girl with ambition who was full of spirit. Then on one tragic night, Dani’s spirit was broken.
To introduce you to Dani, Chad doesn’t just share his story of who she was and what happened, his story reads like a detailed note, specifically for her, wishing that she had waited, wishing she could have held out hope. As a reader, you’ll feel like you’re crashing in on a conversation that you were never meant to hear. His admiration about the fire in her belly is embedded into this story in such a delicate way that you’ll start to feel as if you knew exactly the person she was in high school. His remorse for what transpires is present, but it’s mixed with a disappointment, because her actions were much too extreme and should never have happened.
As I eluded to, one night changes everything for Dani and her spirit is snuffed out. I don’t think it’s my place to share what happens, because Pelley’s telling of this story are his memories and not mine to share. But I can tell you that this story really proves the point that life does get better. You hear that phrase everywhere it seems today, but it’s true and in Pelley’s piece, you’ll understand how it doesn’t just apply to one group of individuals, but to a variety of people. If you’ve already experienced the joy that is high school (sarcasm), you know that what you learned in classrooms doesn’t hold as much influence as the experiences you made. After reading this incredible piece, you’ll know that an experience doesn’t define you, it’s a step towards figuring it all out.
This is a beautiful, nostalgic love letter that should be read by all, because it’s a piece that matters. You can purchase a copy for your eReader here. Drop by tomorrow when I’ll be reviewing I Used to Think I’d Make a Good Boy by Carol Little.
My thanks to Fierce Ink Press for allowing me the opportunity to read and review Before I Was Me by Chad Pelley.