Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 384 pages
First Published: 2023
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Ten years ago, Bess and Joni spend a summer in Greece with their best friend Evangeline. When Evangeline dies, Bess and Joni find themselves suspects, their brash personalities vilified by the media, but ultimately no charges are filed against them. Since then, Bess has kept the lowest profile possible while Joni has become an outspoken motivational speaker. When Joni’s fiancée disappears, Bess comes out of hiding to support Joni and must face what really happened all those summers ago.
I was immediately drawn into Berman’s captivating story about intense female friendships, for it’s always the ones who know us best who can hurt us the most. Before We Were Innocent is a slow-burn mystery that serves as a fascinating character study. I loved the look at Bess, Joni and Ev’s friendship and the examination of how easily our lives can be cherry-picked to paint us white or black, when we are all shades of grey.
A summer in Greece for three best friends ends in the unthinkable when only two return home in this new novel from Ella Berman. . . .
Ten years ago, after a sun-soaked summer spent in Greece, best friends Bess and Joni were cleared of having any involvement in their friend Evangeline’s death. But that didn’t stop the media from ripping apart their teenage lives like vultures.
While the girls were never convicted, Joni, ever the opportunist, capitalized on her newfound infamy to become a motivational speaker. Bess, on the other hand, resolved to make her life as small and controlled as possible so she wouldn’t risk losing everything all over again. And it almost worked. . . .
Except now Joni is tangled up in a crime eerily similar to that one fateful night in Greece. And when she asks Bess to come back to LA to support her, Bess has a decision to make.
Is it finally time to face up to what happened that night, exposing herself as the young woman she once was and maybe still is? And what happens if she doesn’t like what she finds?
About Ella Berman
Ella Berman is the founder of the clothing brand London Loves LA and author of the novels, The Comeback and Before We Were Innocent.