As a music adherent with an underlying mental illness, writer Benjamin Bradford shares his challenges, his loves (Anna and Sophie), and his questionable motivations in the novel Everything that Came Before Grace. Readers can’t help but connect with Benjamin as he falls in love, falls into fatherhood, and is essentially forced into adulthood accompanied by musical undertones which help him express otherwise suppressed emotions for benefit of momentary appeasements. Benjamin’s story of finding himself despite his inner turmoil restrained by his external obligations potentially legitimizes, for some readers, the avoidance of realities in lieu of painful patience with their “people”. Or does it not?
Everything that Came Before Grace is an authentic and impassioned novel about the “coming of age” as a young adult of the 1990s transforms into a man of the 2020s. Bill See brings an uninhibited honesty of the inner workings of his character, Benjamin, to engage readers into an authentic conversation of the generational “gifts” so many adults struggle to define. The raw and genuine emotions that Bill shared, through his character, have the potential to radiate into the hearts of his readers - hopefully for beneficial interior growth. I appreciated being challenged while I read this novel. Kudos to Bill See on an entertaining yet provocative narrative.
Note: The connection that Bill makes with music throughout Benjamin’s journey provides for a unique challenge and an entirely different form of the journey for his readers (listeners). I found myself looking up a couple of the songs, connecting with some and not knowing others. Bill’s genius in bringing the “playlist” to life is a deep and beautiful mixed media approach for a story that could have stood on its own for those who are not as connected to the hits that Benjamin preferred. I’m challenged to listen to his playlist… or gee… to create my own mixed tape of the 1990s-2020s.
Would I encourage a film as real and raw as the novel, Everything that Came Before Grace , by Bill See? Absolutely!