Before You Knew My Name, Jacqueline Bublitz

There are flowers amongst a chain fence. The title is in white over the flowers.

From beyond the grave, Alice tells us this touching story about herself, a young girl who’s had a rough life that ended much too soon. It’s about Ruby, who found Alice’s body. Ruby’s curiosity about whom the police are calling Jane Doe grows daily. She wants to know more about her and figure out who she is because Jane’s face appears in Ruby’s dreams, and she needs closure. Both were new to New York for vastly different reasons. Both were starting to find their place when the unthinkable happened.

This story took an inordinately long time to get into. I didn’t much care for Ruby, the other woman, pining after a man thousands of miles away. She was her affair and little else. I also had a few problems with this. In one chapter, it had been 4 days since Ruby had found Alice, and she was declaring herself a PTSD sufferer. But then it turned out it had been a week. The timeline was confusing, and the DSM would vehemently disagree with Ruby’s assertions. And thankfully, it seems Ruby finally came to that conclusion, sort of. But the inclusion of it wasn’t necessary, in the slightest, because it’s a chapter of text and then referred to once. Why bother including it when she doesn’t even have PTSD? Mental health is not a buzzword to throw in a book because it makes the book “feel” inclusive.

It’s not a bad story, but it doesn’t stand out. The characters aren’t all that in depth, so you don’t really get to know them. It would have been nice for them to exclude the PTSD angle because I almost bailed on the book because of it. But I’m glad I stuck with it because the storyline picked up a bit, and it turned out well. Thank you, Atria Books, for sending this along.

Book Links (releasing November 1st)


About the Book

When she arrived in New York on her eighteenth birthday carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen camera, Alice Lee was looking for a fresh start. Now, just one month later, she is the city’s latest Jane Doe. She may be dead but that doesn’t mean her story is over.

Meanwhile, Ruby Jones is also trying to reinvent herself. After travelling halfway around the world, she’s lonelier than ever in the Big Apple. Until she stumbles upon a woman’s body by the Hudson River, and suddenly finds herself unbreakably tied to the unknown dead woman.

Alice is sure Ruby is the key to solving the mystery of her short life and tragic death. Ruby just wants to forget what she saw…but she can’t seem to stop thinking about the young woman she found. If she keeps looking, can she give this unidentified Jane Doe the ending and closure she deserves?


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