Before My Eyes

Caroline Bock

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

304 Pages



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In Caroline Bock's Before My Eyes, Claire has spent the last few months taking care of her six-year-old sister, Izzy, as their mother lies in a hospital bed. Claire believes she has everything under control until she meets a guy online who appears to be a kindred spirit. Claire is initially flattered by the attention but when she meets Max, the shy state senator's son, her feelings become complicated. Working alongside Max at a beachfront food stand is Barkley. Lonely and obsessive, Barkley has been hearing a voice in his head.

Narrated in turns by Claire, Max, and Barkley, Before My Eyes captures a moment when possibilities should be opening up, but instead everything teeters on the brink of destruction.


Praise for Before My Eyes

"[An] unflinching thriller."-Bookpage

"Every one of Bock's fragile characters hides an unflinching inner backbone of steel. Impassioned and moving."-Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire

"The summer before his senior year, Max, 17, is disillusioned with his New York state senator father and ambitious mother. He has grown tired of and dissatisfied with his planned-out life and doesn't quite know what his next step should be. He works at the Snack Shack at a Long Island beach, where he is surrounded by a motley crew, including his strange coworker Barkley. Max just wants the summer to be over. Seventeen-year-old Claire has her own set of problems and has had to grow up quickly. Her mother had a stroke, leaving Claire to keep the house, cook, watch over her younger sister, and share money woes with her father. All she wants is to be understood. This summer, Barkley, 21, has reached his limit and gives in to his darker nature and the voices he hears in his head. Over a Labor Day weekend, Claire's, Max's, and Barkley's lives come together. The three are forever changed when Barkley brings a gun to a political event. The first-person narrators speak with unique voices, and their tales entwine to create a compelling story. Bock has crafted a suspenseful and intense novel that is sure to keep readers turning the pages."-Elizabeth Jakubowski, formerly at Watervliet Public Library, New York, School Library Journal

"[A] moody, dread-filled microdrama that resists easy classification. In a way, it's an almost-love triangle: Claire, 16, is processing guilt connected to her mother's recent stroke; she meets Max, a state senator's shiftless son with a burgeoning addiction to pain pills. Max buys these pills from 21-year-old coworker Barkley, who is losing touch with reality in his secret obsession with Claire. This tale is told from the three points of view, each one suitably different but sharing Bock's polished second-by-second prose-thick paragraphs filled with short sentences that possess the quality of flash photography or stage directions: 'The winds pick up. The trees rustle. I didn't expect to find myself here. I really didn't.' We know from the prologue that the story concludes with a shooting at a political event; the book, then, concerns itself less with plot-little about the story will surprise-and instead impresses with a series of elegantly conceived scenes of character building. The right readers will find themselves lost in the strange spell. Grades 9-12."-Daniel Kraus, Booklist

"Bock returns to the Long Island setting of her critically acclaimed first book for teens, LIE, as the lives of three young people intersect over a weekend . . . Bock's story unfolds as an hour-by-hour account of the Labor Day weekend before Claire and Max's senior year, told in three alternating points of view. Bock's prose is fluid and resonant, and her characters fully realistic . . . A sense of dread and the threat of violence hang over this gripping novel (the book opens with Barkley pulling out a gun at a campaign event for Max's father), as do the failings of parents, friends, and society. Ages 14-up."-Publishers Weekly

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Read an Excerpt


Monday, Labor Day, 9:58 A.M.
Mark the date. Labor Day. Monday. Nine fifty-eight in the morning. Today I am a lens, a pen, a gun.
Less than a half hour ago, my mother attempted to block my exit. Said I couldn't have...

Read the full excerpt


  • Caroline Bock

  • Caroline Bock is the author of the critically-acclaimed young adult novel LIE. She currently lives in Maryland with her husband and two children.

  • Caroline Bock Michael Bock
    Caroline Bock



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