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Mock Newbery 2018 - The Ethan I Was Before

by Mary Voors | Dec 06, 2017

Cover of Ethan I Was Before

The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish
Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2017
352 pages

The Ethan I was Before by Ali Standish is a story about a boy struggling to work through profound grief. It's also a book full of secrets and mysteries to be resolved. The biggest mystery is trying to figure out what exactly happened to Ethan’s best friend Kacey – the girl who was always ready to accept any dare Ethan offered. The reader knows it was something dramatic enough for the entire family to be uprooted from Boston to his grandfather’s home in a small town in Georgia but doesn’t know exactly what happened.

When Ethan makes a new friend in Georgia, he begins to think that maybe, just maybe, he could start to become the boy he used to be… as long as the preponderance of secrets don't pull everyone under.

My favorite line of the book resonated strongly with me and in many ways sums up this title’s theme:  “Trying to destroy hope is like trying to clean sand out of your beach bag…. There’s always going to be a grain or two left.”

I can't wait to talk about this book at our Mock Newbery discussion which will be held on February 3rd, 2018 at the Main Library in downtown Fort Wayne, IN. Or add your comments below!  We'd love to know what YOU thought of this title.

Each week, beginning the first week of November 2017 through the last week of January 2018, we will be discussing one (or more) of the titles on our 2018 Mock Newbery list. (The complete list of titles we'll be discussing can be found here.)


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  1. Andrew driebergen | Jan 23, 2018

    In part of a reading group in Mr. Throop-Voors´ class I love the book, The Ethan I was Before.  It has a strong theme. The part I loved in the book itself is when the narrator said that Kacey´s room has been dark for 59 days. I just wanted to read more.

    Some of the chapter names are very cool and make you want to read more of the book.

    But the part I don´t understand is why she hates herself but she only did dare Kacey. she didn't have to do it, but I like the rest of the book. but the part that is a big part of the book is when Kacey fell off the branch and hit her head. Everything else was just OK.

  2. Marcella Strong | Jan 23, 2018

    This story is about a boy named Ethan. Ethan was playing with Kacey(best-friend) and she fell out of a tree and is in a comma. She has been in a comma for 59 days. Ethan blames himself for her comma. He ran away 3 times.The last time his parents packed up and moved. They told every one that they were moving because her father was getting up in his age.T he whole time their parents didn't  know what really happend to Kacey. Ethan was hiding the truth.

    The author dose a great job at developing the characters. My favorite part of the book is page 53.

    "Way I could mix things if I could time travel:
    1.I could have convinced Kacey that we didn't need to go to that stupid party.................  "

    This book has a good chance of winning the Newbery award!

  3. Anthony Sylvester | Jan 23, 2018

    My name is Anthony Sylvester and I'm in Mr.Throop-Voors' Newbery reading group.                                                                                                             The Ethan I was Before is a good book because it has so many different mystery elements and that's what made me keep reading. I like how the author described the theme, like when they moved to a new house and the quote is "palm knot, Georgia is the Hidden Jewel of the so th", instead of south.

    One thing I didn't like was when the author told the readers what happen to Kasey because that could have been left up to the reader and leave the mystery open. 

    I think this could win the Newbery because the character development is a big part of this story. Without it the, readers will not know anything about the characters and this author develops Ethan well by clearly showing the change that Ethan goes through.


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