Before I Knew You
Life Matters Publishing
Published on March 9, 2018
About Before I Knew You
After a series of bad choices rocked his world, seventeen-year-old Preston charts a new course as far from his ladies’ man ways as he can get. He distances himself from the dating scene and avoids his party-loving friends—the things that once dominated his life. Then he meets Maggie, the new girl in town, the first day of their junior year. She’s beautiful on the inside and out, knows nothing of his past, and he can’t get her out of his mind.
When a disastrous first date leaves her skeptical about the guys at Madison High, Maggie slows down her pursuit of a guy to trust with her white-wedding-dress future. She wants a boyfriend, sure, but he’d have to be nothing like the jerk who forced her first kiss. Someone more like Preston, who’s been nothing but sweet and helpful, not to mention, easy on the eyes. But he is so out of her league.
Can Maggie afford to let her guard down around the charming Preston? Will Preston’s past jeopardize his chances with the one girl who could anchor his future?
Before I Knew You has a strong message. At its heart, the story is about two teens who make a commitment to abstain from sex before marriage. Both have made the decision independently and because of their faith.
I worried a little bit that the story would be message-driven or dominated by the agenda of promoting abstinence. But honestly, I felt like it had a great balance between the message and the story. The message elements were pretty effectively integrated into the story, so that it didn’t feel preachy. It felt like observing two people as they try to navigate how to have a healthy dating relationship which includes these moral values.
Preston feels pressure to hide the fact that he used to drink and has slept with a past girlfriend from Maggie, which creates lots of problems and tension. Maggie is new to dating relationships and has never had a serious relationship at all before she begins dating Preston. Her struggle is much more emotional. Her feelings for Preston dominate her thought life, and sometimes her value depends a lot on his behavior and how he feels about her.
Maggie’s feelings about Preston were sometimes a little much for me. She’s a realistic teen character—I remember feeling consumed by relationships the way she is in the story. I kind of wished that someone at some point told her she needed to find her value in other things besides Preston. It also kind of rubbed me the wrong way when Preston decides to handle a past situation by planning to confront someone else’s parents about it. At the time, he is dead-set on hiding the whole situation from his own parents, and I kept hoping someone would call him out on that hypocrisy or encourage him to be honest about it with his parents. It didn’t happen, but the conflict did get resolved. (Sorry to be so cryptic… I don’t want to give too much away.)
Another thing I did like about Before I Knew You was that as the relationship between Preston and Maggie deepens, Preston rekindles a mentoring relationship with a sports coach. He and some other guys his age start spending time together and talking about how to maintain their commitment to abstinence. This was another point where I felt like the message could have overtaken the story, but it didn’t. In fact, I liked that the characters were pretty real about how they needed to have a plan and boundaries in place if they were going to have a successful and lasting commitment to wait until marriage to have sex, and how the story showed those playing out.
This book may not appeal to everyone. But especially for teens interested in waiting to have sex, it’s a great “you’re not the only one” kind of story with some practical examples of things to do that can help support the choice to wait to have sex.
Major characters are white.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Both Maggie and Preston are Christians. Their faith comes up now and again in mostly small ways – references to church or prayer or Bible verses. The biggest faith element in the story is Maggie and Preston’s commitments to wait until marriage to have sex.
Preston goes to a party where teens are drinking alcohol. He only drinks Mountain Dew, as he’s made a commitment not to drink alcohol anymore. Maggie attends a similar party but doesn’t drink alcohol either.