Before We Were Innocent

Ella Berman

Mystery Thriller

A summer in Greece for three best friends ends in the unthinkable when only two return home in this new novel from Ella Berman. . . .

Ten years ago, after a sun-soaked summer spent in Greece, best friends Bess and Joni were cleared of having any involvement in their friend Evangeline’s death. But that didn’t stop the media from ripping apart their teenage lives like vultures.

While the girls were never convicted, Joni, ever the opportunist, capitalized on her newfound infamy to become a motivational speaker. Bess, on the other hand, resolved to make her life as small and controlled as possible so she wouldn’t risk losing everything all over again. And it almost worked. . . .

Except now Joni is tangled up in a crime eerily similar to that one fateful night in Greece. And when she asks Bess to come back to LA to support her, Bess has a decision to make.

Is it finally time to face up to what happened that night, exposing herself as the young woman she once was and maybe still is? And what happens if she doesn’t like what she finds?

-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.

Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.

My Opinion 

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5) Before heading off to college, three friends took the opportunity to spend the summer in Greece together. One was killed and two were suspected but cleared.

Who would pass up the opportunity to spend weeks in Greece? It sounded amazing and for the first bit, it was. Then the girls got bored and started turning on each other. It was only made worse by one of their brothers showing up with his friends and starting a romance with one of the girls. This seemed to be the breaking point.

“Sometimes, your entire f*cking life catches on fire for no reason other than to remind you of how fragile it all is. How little control we have over any of it.”

When one girl is found dead under suspicious circumstances, the other two are suspects. The drama played out beautifully with personal moments taken out of context and conversations taken literally. Even pictures taken could be construed.

Ten years later the women meet up for the anniversary. Their lives are polar opposites because of what happened in Greece. When another tragedy happens, lines start connecting. It became the ultimate mystery with suspense that played out well. What started out as a slow build, turned into fascinating details that changed the entire book.

I enjoyed this book but my personal preference is that I wanted more from the ending. I needed more of a conclusion as it was a bit open-ended and left me dissatisfied. However, the remainder of the book was entertaining throughout.

General content summary: F words= 85, f/f engagement, infidelity, genitalia pic (few details), drugs and cigarettes and alcohol (some underage, multiple, hard drugs), m/f passionate kissing (multiple),  intimacy (references, small bits of details, multiple), a teen girl identifies as lesbian, mother with eating disorder (tells teens what to do), watching porn (brief, few details), seeing someone fall off a cliff, grief, body washing on shore (foul play suspected), reference to sex trafficking, evidence of domestic violence (bruises).

Thank you to Berkley, NetGalley and Shelf Awareness for the giveaway win!

The book releases April 4, 2023.

**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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