Official Review: Before We Died by Joan Schweighardt

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
Forum rules
Authors and publishers are not able to post replies in the review topics.
Post Reply
User avatar
ritah
Posts: 572
Joined: 24 Jun 2017, 06:52
2018 Reading Goal: 150
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 26
2017 Reading Goal: 20
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 80
Favorite Book: <a href="http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelve ... 03345">The Darziods' Stone</a>
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 166
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-ritah.html
Latest Review: Lady Lawyer by Shelley L. Levisay

Official Review: Before We Died by Joan Schweighardt

Post by ritah »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Before We Died" by Joan Schweighardt.]
Book Cover
4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review


A little over a hundred years ago, it was discovered that latex from rubber trees could be processed into a substance with a wide range of lucrative uses. This led to the first rubber boom between 1879 and 1912.

In 1908, Clementine, an old Italian hag, who passes herself as a fortune teller tells Mrs. Hopper that it is her late husband’s wish that their two boys (Jack and Baxter Hopper) get away from the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey and find themselves an adventure to escape their collective misery. Although skeptical, with encouragement from their mother, Jack and Bax decide to seek adventure in South America with hopes and dreams of making a fortune rubber tapping. They are under no illusions of the hardships they would face in the jungle, such as floods, snakes, malaria, extreme hunger, and unfriendly competitors. However, nothing could have prepared them for what they were to encounter and the psychological warfare that would ensue.

Before We Died by Joan Schweighardt is a literary adventure novel that takes readers on an unforgettable expedition. Set in South America, during the rubber boom, the narrative gives readers a glimpse of some of the horrible realities that came with the growing demand for rubber. It is the first book in the Rivers trilogy, and I am eager for the release of the next in the series because Before We Died was superb!

I love the historical aspect of this novel. Although heartbreaking, it inspired me to research a little more on the topic. The author did a great job in weaving historical bits and geographical locations into her fictionalized account, giving it an authentic and extremely believable feel. I also love the tragicomedy aspect of the novel, as it lightens the overall mood and induces several laugh-out-loud moments; this was a big part of the novel as I found myself bursting into laughter even as I ebbed toward the last pages.

The first-person narrator is an Irish American, and so his descriptions and dialogues reflected his origins naturally. The use of Irish words, phrases, and slang enhanced the writing and helped set the atmosphere. Portuguese was also used, and this added a real sense of place when the characters traveled to Portuguese-speaking locations; wherever the meanings were vague or implicit, the author offered a quick translation. I have to mention, however, that the narrative contains curse words and violence.

There were adequate descriptions of sceneries throughout the characters’ voyages; this made it feel like I was with them on their travels and adventures. The two brothers were opposites, but their personalities were likable, and their differences only enhanced the interesting dynamic between them. The author also used flashbacks to add depth to her characters; it was easy to connect with them and share their different emotions.

Overall, Before We Died is a well-written and fascinating read. The setting, characters, and plot worked well to birth a brilliant narrative. I am happy to recommend this novel to fans of historical fiction and adventure novels. It is my pleasure to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.

******
Before We Died
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon

Like ritah's review? Post a comment saying so!

User avatar
BookMarkedReviews
Posts: 9
Joined: 15 Jan 2018, 09:23
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 5
Currently Reading: The Three Musketeers
Bookshelf Size: 18
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-bookmarkedreviews.html
Latest Review: McDowell by William H. Coles
Reading Device: B00IKPYKWG

Post by BookMarkedReviews »

This is another historical novel that actually looks quite interesting to me. I usually don't read this genre but I have seen several books recently that definitely look worth the read. I'm beginning to think I shouldn't avoid historical fiction so much! I like the idea of learning about history and culture while reading an exciting, emotional novel such as this.

User avatar
ritah
Posts: 572
Joined: 24 Jun 2017, 06:52
2018 Reading Goal: 150
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 26
2017 Reading Goal: 20
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 80
Favorite Book: <a href="http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelve ... 03345">The Darziods' Stone</a>
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 166
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-ritah.html
Latest Review: Lady Lawyer by Shelley L. Levisay

Post by ritah »

BookMarkedReviews wrote:
02 Sep 2018, 06:16
This is another historical novel that actually looks quite interesting to me. I usually don't read this genre but I have seen several books recently that definitely look worth the read. I'm beginning to think I shouldn't avoid historical fiction so much! I like the idea of learning about history and culture while reading an exciting, emotional novel such as this.

It was! I cannot recommend it enough - it is one of my favorite books. Historical fiction is a gem of literature you don't want to be missing out on. When done well it's both riveting and informative. The author of this Historical Fiction accomplished just that with Before We Died.

User avatar
rainydaysc64
Posts: 77
Joined: 30 Aug 2018, 10:05
2018 Reading Goal: 40
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 15
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 834
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-rainydaysc64.html
Latest Review: Isabella's Painting by Ellen Butler
Reading Device: B00OZTU156

Post by rainydaysc64 »

I don’t know if this book is something I’d enjoy. But I’m glad to see you enjoyed it at least.
"I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a book."
- J.K. Rowling

User avatar
kandscreeley
Special Discussion Leader
Posts: 9869
Joined: 31 Dec 2016, 20:31
2019 Reading Goal: 95
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 86
Currently Reading: Sunshine at the Academy
Bookshelf Size: 331
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kandscreeley.html
Latest Review: First, Do Harm by Marc Kage

Post by kandscreeley »

I like historical fiction that is both engaging and educational. This definitely sounds like it fits the bill. I really know nothing about the rubber boom nor how it affected anyone. It sounds like I should pick this up. Thanks.
Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable.
-Louisa May Alcott

Sahar Majid
Posts: 161
Joined: 09 Aug 2018, 14:53
Currently Reading: World, Incorporated
Bookshelf Size: 23
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-sahar-majid.html
Latest Review: Iron Crossed by Renata Rose and Phil Rose

Post by Sahar Majid »

I hardly read historical novels and if all I had known was that it centered around the time of the rubber producing boom I would have probably thought it to be boring but this actually manages to pique my interest. It seems like an usual set of characters in an unusual situation and that's what makes such plotlines fun. Along with that it seems like the author can easily transfer from one mood to the next and that's very important.
The review itself it pretty good.

User avatar
Emi_Review
Posts: 129
Joined: 15 Aug 2018, 06:31
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 44
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-emi-review.html
Latest Review: Roadmap to the End of Days by Daniel Friedmann

Post by Emi_Review »

I love historical fiction but this is such a surprising and unexpected part of history to write about, something I definitely haven't read about before. The plot sounds very interesting and educational, I certainly know next to nothing about the rubber-producing industry and of its most demanding years. I think the cover would have enticed me to pick up this book and if the blurb is anything like your review, then that would have made me want to read it. Your review is very insightful and I think I'll add this to my reading list, thank you.

User avatar
gali
Site Admin
Posts: 43477
Joined: 22 Oct 2013, 07:12
2019 Reading Goal: 100
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 92
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 100
2017 Reading Goal: 100
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 100
Favorite Author: Agatha Christie
Currently Reading: Re-Coil
Bookshelf Size: 1988
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-gali.html
Reading Device: B00I15SB16
fav_author_id: 2484

Post by gali »

A historical fiction novel revolving around the adventures of two Irish American brothers in South America during the rubber boom sounds interesting. That it opens a window about this period enriches the tale. Using Irish words is a nice touch. Not my cup of tea, but I am glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for the review!
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

User avatar
bb587
Posts: 815
Joined: 26 Mar 2018, 08:14
2019 Reading Goal: 60
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 50
Favorite Book: Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #1)
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 98
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-bb587.html
Latest Review: Phil's First Time by Philip Beggs

Post by bb587 »

I don't know much about rubber or South America. This book seems a great way to learn more. I really like how accurate it is, especially with the Irish accent and idioms.

User avatar
Ruba Abu Ali
Posts: 936
Joined: 01 Jul 2018, 09:47
Currently Reading: Finding Chika
Bookshelf Size: 102
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-ruba-abu-ali.html
Latest Review: Fall of the Raven by Thymournia

Post by Ruba Abu Ali »

Historical fiction and adventures that are both entertaining and educational are right up my alley. Thank you for the enlightening review.

User avatar
Stephanie Elizabeth
Posts: 1569
Joined: 18 Jul 2018, 15:41
2019 Reading Goal: 40
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 140
Currently Reading: Opaque
Bookshelf Size: 85
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-stephanie-elizabeth.html
Latest Review: No Second Chances by Christopher Sherrod

Post by Stephanie Elizabeth »

I have no knowledge regarding the history of rubber so this would be a real eye-opener for me. I like that the author was able to include much of the history while providing a fictional story. Great review!

User avatar
Brendan Donaghy
Posts: 816
Joined: 18 Jan 2019, 13:14
2019 Reading Goal: 20
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 175
Currently Reading: Small Great Things
Bookshelf Size: 55
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-brendan-donaghy.html
Latest Review: The Second Born by Arnold R Robinson

Post by Brendan Donaghy »

This sounds like a book I might well read, as I enjoy historical fiction if it's well done. This was sounds like it is - your enjoyment of it radiates off the page1 Thanks for an excellent review!

User avatar
Ferdinand_otieno
Posts: 2451
Joined: 03 Jun 2017, 12:54
2019 Reading Goal: 300
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 96
2018 Reading Goal: 250
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 140
2017 Reading Goal: 200
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 94
Favorite Author: Victor Rose
Currently Reading: Amethyst of Destiny
Bookshelf Size: 943
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-ferdinand-otieno.html
Latest Review: Peoushi: An American Legend by Michael F. McWilliams
fav_author_id: 78026

Post by Ferdinand_otieno »

BookMarkedReviews wrote:
02 Sep 2018, 06:16
This is another historical novel that actually looks quite interesting to me. I usually don't read this genre but I have seen several books recently that definitely look worth the read. I'm beginning to think I shouldn't avoid historical fiction so much! I like the idea of learning about history and culture while reading an exciting, emotional novel such as this.
I am a big fan of historical fiction novel and the Rubber boom period seems like an interesting read. I can't wait to read the book for myself.

User avatar
Virtueluv
Posts: 1
Joined: 05 Aug 2018, 14:37
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 0

Post by Virtueluv »

BEFORE WE DIED by Joan Schweighardt: I would like to rate this book a 4.5. Even though I have only read a few pages of the book, the historical view of the story is so engaging talking about two brothers who left their jobs on the docks of New Jersey to become rubber tappers in South America in 1908. Part of the reason was to get over the death of their beloved father, leaving behind their grieving mother and also Nora.
The novel is basically about the South American rubber boom, unveiling a lot of mysteries. But the heart of the story is about the brothers, the special bond between them as well as how it is impacted by the incredible things that happen to them in the rainforest.

User avatar
Ferdinand_otieno
Posts: 2451
Joined: 03 Jun 2017, 12:54
2019 Reading Goal: 300
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 96
2018 Reading Goal: 250
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 140
2017 Reading Goal: 200
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 94
Favorite Author: Victor Rose
Currently Reading: Amethyst of Destiny
Bookshelf Size: 943
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-ferdinand-otieno.html
Latest Review: Peoushi: An American Legend by Michael F. McWilliams
fav_author_id: 78026

Post by Ferdinand_otieno »

I lik historical fiction books and a book set in South America during the Rubber boom sounds like one that I would enjoy very much. I have just added the book to my "want to read" shelf.

Post Reply

Return to “Historical Fiction”