Even before I actually read the book Before Ever After, I had already become (I am) a fan of Samantha Sotto. How can you not be, when you hear her story and how she produced this novel?
Sam (I hope you don’t mind me calling you that! :)) and I have never really met, although I do feel now more than ever that we have so many people in common we might have even found ourselves in the same room at one point in time and didn’t even know it then (After reading through your acknowledgements page Sam, I realized there were more than I thought!). So for now we are virtual friends, but I do sincerely hope that it will all change soon.
From all that I’ve read and heard from our many common friends, this is what I know to be her fairytale come true: When Sam decided to leave the corporate world and become a full-time mom, she started writing this book. Everyday as her son entered Kindergarten, she would park herself in the coffee shop across the street from his school to save on gas and time from commuting to and from home (which in Manila, while it is really only a few kilometers, with the traffic and the tolls, it feels like a million miles away) and write. Eventually she bought a 2nd hand “Guide to Publishing”, made a few edits here and there, and in the blink of an eye, Crown Publishing picked it up. She is officially the first Filipino to be published internationally.
Now here it is, 3 weeks into the launch (Philippine readers, you’ve had it since July 26!) and thousands of radio interviews, blog posts and reviews later — and from what I’m reading from various unrelated sources, it is on its way to becoming the next international best-seller. Way to go Sam!
So I had all this great hype and information before my pre-ordered copy arrived last August 2. With all the excitement, the book trailer, and the launch in the Philippines , I could not wait to read it.
Now weeks after I did finally finish it (my husband used to say that I “devoured” books, but ever since my two precious ones that demand my attention and free time, I think the devouring has turned into something similar to “grazing”), I am left pleasantly speechless!
The book for me is incredibly well-written and it is an easy read, in spite of the many “characters” involved and the way it takes you back through time. I’ve seen reviews that say it is similar to The Time Traveler’s Wife, and I can see how Sam used it as an inspiration for her book. But Before Ever After is more unique than anything I’ve ever read and there are so many good reasons why. Imagine a love story that is also part fantasy, set in modern times, and in Europe no less. Even if you’ve never been to the stops on the Slight Detour, you can actually picture them all from how well Sam describes them. It’s a look at Europe from a different perspective. While there are so many facets and elements to the story, it all builds onto the other and makes perfect cohesive sense in the end, so it is impossible to get lost. It is humorous and witty, refreshing yet deeply insightful.
The other part that leaves me in awe is also how well marketed the book is. Everything looks and feels thought-through (and I’m sure that it’s all very deliberate!), down to the rough-cut edges of the hardbound’s pages (packaging is important!), all the way to the details on the website and the blog. The pre-hype and the continued advertising and PR that is being done today make it all feel larger than life (That is a phrase my boss in a previous life used a lot to signify when a campaign was a success).
I think best of all, no matter how big and successful Before Ever After is becoming, Sam is still able to keep it all very personal. I don’t know how she does it but she manages to reply to every single Tweet, Facebook post or blog comment that you send her in spite of her hectic schedule! It’s amazing.
To Sam, congratulations once again from the bottom of my Chapel Hill heart! You are truly an inspiration to all of us and have proven that cups of coffee can indeed make dreams come true! 🙂 I hear that book #2 is underway and so I have one question: Where do I pre-order? 🙂
If you haven’t gotten your copy of Before Ever After yet, you can order it now from Amazon or from any of the distribution channels listed in Sam’s site. And if you’ve already read it, what do you think of it? 🙂