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Explaining The Conclusion Of Before Ever After By Samantha Sotto

Book Cover

Recently it’s come to my notice that people are finding my site when searching for variations on “explain the ending of Before Ever After”, “conclusion of Before Ever After”. As far as I know, Samantha Sotto hasn’t received all that much publicity, and this is why I think so many people land at my site. I can understand these visitors – the ending of the book is a little ambiguous, even if there are hints as to what has happened – and whilst it’s nice that people are coming to my site, I know that my review does not answer their question.

So, because of the number of searches there have been, please find below my interpretation of the conclusion of Before Ever After. It is one of my favourite books, so even though I read it last year, I remember a lot of it. Due to the nature of interpretations of conclusions, what I say could be considered spoilers. That said, at the same time I realise what I have to say may intrigue potential readers for Sotto’s subject matter and handling of it.

What you have to remember is that in the fantasy version of earth that Sotto creates, there have been very few people who have survived dying to become immortal. It takes a particularly strong person – strong in will – to survive death, and indeed Max only knows of one other person who has managed it. This other person is accounted for by Sotto, so I won’t take this point further.

When Shelley arrives at Max’s home, after having realised the truth of his life and gone searching for him, she has already taken the poison that will kill her. But she doesn’t make that the first thing she says to Max, presumably because she wants to explain things before he has an opportunity to become anxious. Shelley has taken the poison in an attempt to kill herself with the intention of getting through it, like Max did, and becoming immortal. She is willing to kill herself for the small chance (and it is small given that it is a difficult thing to accomplish) of succeeding and joining Max in his immortality. She does this even though Max tells her of his past girlfriend who failed and died.

This is, at it’s heart, Sotto’s way of explaining love conquering all. Shelley’s death is a test – if she fails she did not love Max enough, if she succeeds then she is “the one”, so to speak. However this is not to say that Sotto is advocating such methods or concepts of love in general; this is of course a fantasy novel and her ideas rest firmly on the page. And given that Shelley and Max’s relationship has never fallen into the realms of general angst, that they have always been mature and more or less realistic, this part of the book is surely quite acceptable.

Sotto ends the chapter without telling you what happened after Shelley died, and when you turn to the last page there is just a quick description of a breakfast table set for two the next morning. This could mean that Shelley died the previous evening and Max is remembering her, but it makes far more sense that it refers to Shelley’s success in becoming immortal – in dying and then coming back to life, as immortal now as Max.

And if this is so then Sotto is inferring that Shelley loved Max enough, that she truly loved him and they were meant to be together, literally forever. Max lost his blood relations as history took its toll, but he now has a chance to start afresh with Shelley.

If you’ve read the book, what do you think of this interpretation? If you haven’t read it, have I intrigued you?

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