Heartache & Healing in Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan

by Theja Pk
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Last updated on May 18th, 2024

In this review, we’ll dive into the first book of the Skyland Series by Kennedy Ryan, Before I Let Go.

This book tells the story of a couple who has spent their life getting to know all the nooks and crannies of each other’s hearts, only to be torn apart by the overwhelming force of grief.

As they try to navigate their new reality, Josiah and Yasmen must balance their co-parenting duties with the undeniable spark between them.

I get why everyone is crazy about this book, but maybe because of all the buzz, I had high expectations and felt a little let down by some parts of the book. There were definitely some great moments, but it just didn’t quite live up to the hype for me.

Before I Let Go – Kennedy Ryan

3.8 out of 5
book cover of before I let go by Kennedy Ryan showing a side profile of an African-american female with an afro

GENRE: Romance, Women’s fiction
PUB DATE: November 15, 2022
TROPE: marriage in trouble, second chance
TWs: pregnancy loss, depression, grief

The story of a couple who has spent their life getting to know all the nooks and crannies of each other’s hearts, only to be torn apart by the overwhelming force of grief.

4 out of 5
3 out of 5
4 out of 5
Overall Enjoyment
4 out of 5


admired the FMC's emotional battles

funny side characters

pro-therapy vibes

sensitive exploration of heavy themes


overemphasis on sexual chemistry and not enough on their emotional connection

FMC was immature at times

repetitive inner thoughts

alot of telling and not enough showing in writing

Table of contents


Their love was supposed to last forever. But when life delivered blow after devastating blow, Yasmen and Josiah Wade found that love alone couldn’t solve or save everything. It couldn’t save their marriage.

Yasmen wasn’t prepared for how her life fell apart, but she’s is finally starting to find joy again. She and Josiah have found a new rhythm, co-parenting their two kids and running a thriving business together. Yet like magnets, they’re always drawn back to each other, and now they’re beginning to wonder if they’re truly ready to let go of everything they once had.

Soon, one stolen kiss leads to another…and then more. It’s hot. It’s illicit. It’s all good—until old wounds reopen. Is it too late for them to find forever? Or could they even be better, the second time around?


What I admired most about the MCs was their healthy co-parenting style. They put their kids and business first, and that compartmentalization works well for them. It’s refreshing to read about couples who can raise their kids without letting their divorce get in the way. 


Josiah’s role as Deja and Kassim’s father is where his character shines. As I read about his interactions with his kids, I liked him more and more. Whether it was through disciplining Deja or supporting Kassim, he demonstrated a commitment to fatherhood that impressed me.

And his personal growth from being “allergic to therapy” to eventually learning to verbalize his emotions was commendable and reminiscent of Dominic in Love Her or Lose Her. 

But his character falls short in his role as Yasmen’s ex-husband. Although he’s physically attracted to her, there isn’t enough attention given to the emotional struggles that led to their divorce.

This made their interactions feel too superficial, despite being told several times how great their love is. I would have loved to see more of their emotional connection beyond their sexual chemistry.


I have mixed feelings when it comes to Yasmen. I admire her for being so strong when she had to make a difficult decision during a challenging period in her life. She was brave enough to choose herself, even if it meant risking her marriage.

However, there were a couple of moments in the story where she acted a bit childish toward other characters, which I disagreed with and felt were unnecessary to the storyline.

Side Characters

I absolutely adored the way Yasmen’s friends provided her with unwavering support. Their sisterhood and hilarious interactions were always something I looked forward to reading.

Of all the friends, HENDRIX was definitely my favorite – she’s a no-nonsense, unfiltered kind of friend that everyone needs in their life. Her dialogues were the funniest in the book, and I laughed so hard.

Possible emotional trigger with secondary love interests: I just wanted to give you a friendly heads-up that this book might not be the best fit for you if you’re sensitive about reading about exes moving on while you still have feelings for them.

Yasmen’s point of view hit home for me and brought up some old issues, so I needed to take a break to recuperate. Just keep that in mind if you’re going to read this book.


The book is marketed as a romance, but the plot leans heavily toward women’s fiction. By exploring issues surrounding mental health and toxic masculinity, depression, and grief, little room was left to develop the romance plot line adequately. 

I enjoyed the positive message in this book about therapy, encouraging readers to ask for help without feeling weak or unlovable. It was comforting to be reminded that being gentle with ourselves and showing compassion when we make mistakes is important. In this regard, this is similar to other marriage in trouble books I have read where the couples went to counselling.

Ryan did a great job highlighting the difficult aftermath of experiencing pregnancy loss and depression and how challenging it can be to navigate those emotions. 

As mentioned above, the romance plot felt underdeveloped, with too much emphasis on their physical attraction without diving into what tore them apart until the very ending, when it feels to be a bit rushed.

There were also many filler scenes that had no significant impact on the main storyline and could have been replaced with more character development. 


The writing style was beautiful and I appreciated the dual POVs. It was great to understand both sides of the divorce and how each person dealt with their grief differently.

I did notice that there were some repetitive inner thoughts throughout the story. This could have been done to show the internal struggle of their feelings, but it made the story longer than needed. 

Flashbacks would have also helped a lot in showing why their love was such a great love by emphasizing the emotional depth because we are told over and over again that their love is one of a kind, but this is only ever shown through their sexual chemistry. 

Best Quotes

  • Sometimes the people who are always keeping things together are the least prepared when they actually fall apart.
  • Grief is a grind. It is the work of breathing and waking and rising and moving through a world that feels emptier. A gaping hole has been torn into your existence, and everyone around you just walks right past it like it’s not even there.
  • Life isn’t about taking what you deserve, it’s about getting all you can while you can because it’s short. Because it’s fickle. Because it takes when we least expect it. Now everything I’ve lost makes me cherish the things I have, instead of always being afraid I’ll lose them.

“May all your pain be champagne.”

  • I’m apparently not very good at losing things, and I’m really bad at losing you.
  • Our traumas, the things that injure us in this life, even over time, are not always behind us. Sometimes they linger in the smell of a newborn baby. They surprise us in the taste of a home-cooked meal. They wait in the room at the end of the hall. They are with us. They are present. And there are some days when memories feel more real than those who remain, than the joys of this world.
  • Finding someone you can laugh with when everything hurts—was the stuff happily ever afters were made of.


Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan is an enlightening and emotional story about healing from grief and being brave enough to take second chances.

While there were missing elements to the story that left me disappointed, like the underdeveloped romance, its mental health representation elevates the book’s overall impact.  

And reading this book after reading Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano was a mistake because it blew my mind so much that any book I read after would have had a hard time living up to it. 


Will Before I Let Go be made into a film?

For those eager to see this story on the big screens, I have good news!

The film adaptation of Before I Let Go is currently in the works at Peacock, with UCP (Universal Content Productions) and Universal TV involved. Malcolm D. Lee, renowned for directing the hit series, The Best Man: The Final Chapters, will be the director.

Kennedy Ryan will serve as executive producer, alongside John Legend, Mike Jackson, and Dominique Telson.

Is there a sequel to Before I Let Go?


Kennedy Ryan announced on her instagram in August 2023 that Soledad will be getting her own book.

I was really curious about her story after getting to know her in this one to see the full story behind her struggles with her husband. So I am looking forward to the second book in the Skyland Series.

Enjoyed this review? Then, add ‘Before I Let Go’ to your TBR. And if you have already read this book and have some thoughts to share, drop them in the comments below. I would love to hear them!

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