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Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan

Before I Let Go

by Kennedy Ryan

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Quick take

All the right ingredients are there, but can this divorced couple find a way to make their romantic recipe work again?

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Emotional


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MarriageIssues

    Marriage issues

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Foodie



Their love was supposed to last forever. But when life delivered blow after devastating blow, Yasmen and Josiah Wade found that love alone couldn’t solve or save everything.

It couldn’t save their marriage.

Yasmen wasn’t prepared for how her life fell apart, but she’s finally starting to find joy again. She and Josiah have found a new rhythm, co-parenting their two kids and running a thriving business together. Yet like magnets, they’re always drawn back to each other, and now they’re beginning to wonder if they’re truly ready to let go of everything they once had.

Soon, one stolen kiss leads to another . . . and then more. It’s hot. It’s illicit. It’s all good—until old wounds reopen. Is it too late for them to find forever? Or could they even be better, the second time around?

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Before I Let Go.
Before I Let Go



Do people remember the exact moment they fall in love?

I do. Yasmen brought me homemade chicken noodle soup when I was so sick it hurt to blink. Tasted like day-old dishwater. Not sure how you mess up chicken noodle soup, but my girl managed it. She watched me expectantly with those long-lashed doe eyes. God, I’ll never forget her expression when I spat that soup out, but it was so bad and I was too sick to even play it off.

For a second, Yasmen looked distressed, but then, despite feeling like someone dragged me over hot coals and needles, I laughed. Then she laughed and I wondered if this—finding someone you can laugh with when everything hurts—was the stuff happily ever afters were made of. Not the sugarcoated kisses and hot-air balloon rides and romantic walks under a full moon. My whole body throbbed with whatever plague infected me, but that day Yasmen made me happy. In the midst of a raging flu, she made me laugh.

And I knew.

I tipped over from wildly attracted and more-than-slightly pussy-whipped into the real thing. Into love. That moment is soldered into my memory. It’s one I’ll never forget.

And here, just months later, so is this one.

“What do you think?” Yasmen looks up from something she’s working on at the card table in the middle of the living/dining/kitchen zone of my dilapidated one-bedroom apartment, complete with impoverished student decor.

“Think about what?” I ask, sitting down in the raggedy chair across from her.


“Baby, please don’t make grits again. I’m still recovering from the last time you tried.”

She glares at me without heat, the corners of her mouth fighting a grin. “Boy, not cook grits. Have you even been listening? I said what if you name your restaurant Grits?”

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Why I love it

I teared up (and laughed, and sighed, and cheered) many, many, many times while reading Kennedy Ryan’s new masterpiece, Before I Let Go. There is a specific scene, though, that I’ll carry in my heart forever: Yasmen—mother, ex-wife, restaurant owner, all-around superwoman, severely depressed person in recovery—is asked by her therapist to set a date to forgive herself for the choices she made in the past. After thinking about it long and hard, she says: “Today. Write down today.”

If you have any sort of experience with depression, the adept way Kennedy Ryan writes about mental health will doubtlessly resonate with you. Her prose is lyrical, full of gut punches and breathtaking images, perfect to convey the struggles of grief, self-doubt, and loneliness. But I don’t want people to get the wrong idea, because Before I Let Go is not a sad book. On the contrary, it’s fundamentally a story of hope and healing. At its center are Yasmen and Josiah: two soulmates who are deeply in love, have built a life together, and manage to find their way back to that life following a tragedy. It is a tearjerker, but also sexy, funny, witty, and swoony. It celebrates the importance of family ties, resilience, and communication. Before I Let Go is, at heart, a romance—and a perfect one at that.

It takes an immensely talented kind of writer to create a piece of work that’s raw and gritty, but also dreamy and romantic. This book is the real deal, and Kennedy Ryan is one of the best voices of this generation.

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Member ratings (4,200)

  • Japinique H.

    Greenville, NC

    This book was ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ hands down okay. I mean it brought me to tears, laughter, like every emotion I could think of this book brought me to it.  true definition of finding your way back to love.

  • Alexis A.

    Birmingham, AL

    I can’t believe I loved a romance book! I loved seeing Yasmen & Josiah find their way back to each other. I also enjoyed the different serious topics the author discussed in the book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

  • Myles P.

    Joliet, IL

    Hands down my favorite read so far this year. Such an emotional well written story that really makes you think about your own life choices with relationships and if maybe they are over.. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Cayla B.

    Niles, OH

    Wow! What a beautiful story. I loved going along their journey from the dual points of view. So many real emotions and you couldn’t help but root for the characters to find their ways to healing ❤️‍????

  • Shalane H.

    Hayward, CA

    I can’t even explain how much I loved this book. It was so good. It moved me. I got wrapped up in it immediately, and couldn’t put it down. I laughed, I cried, I felt hope. And so much more. 5/5 ⭐️!

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