Episode 5

Embracing Second Chances

Welcome back! I’ve had a few curve balls thrown at me since my last episode and I’m glad you’re back with me.

The biggest thing I’ve had to deal with was a surprise diagnosis of Stage 3 colorectal cancer, which has influenced my approach to hardship and inspired me to dive deep into literature for solace. Among the books I read during treatment was Kennedy Ryan's 'Before I Let Go', a complex tale of love, grief, reconciliation and healing that uniquely highlights the experience of a divorced couple. The story's themes of self-compassion, therapy culmination into growth and resilience resonates deeply with me, encouraging me through my own recovery. 

The book also makes a mark with its dual-narrative structure, realistic portrayals of flawed characters and the enticing inclusion of southern cuisine. It’s a lovely reminder that relationships are a journey, and that true love can find its way back even after devastating losses.

Find it on Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/shop/CultureLitPodcast

Culture Lit is a community in celebration of black women and black love, and a reminder that black women deserve joy, love, success, second chances, and all the beautiful magic the world has to offer.

Connect on Socials:

on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/becomingoctaviamarie/

on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/xooctaviamarie

Attribution Link: A Podcast Launch Bestie Production

Mentioned in this episode:

If you're enjoying the show, join our community at culturelitpodcast.com.

Join Our Community

Transcript
Octavia Marie:

As 2022 came to a close, my world was turned upside down.

2

:

What I thought would be a

routine colonoscopy revealed I

3

:

had stage 3 colorectal cancer.

4

:

Shit, I was still navigating the

aftermath of COVID, lockdown,

5

:

and being outside again.

6

:

Pondering the direction

I wanted for my life.

7

:

What I landed on Was refusing

to tiptoe through life, only to

8

:

arrive safely at death's door.

9

:

What I learned from my journey

through treatment is that,

10

:

in this lifetime, if you're

lucky, you'll get a hundred years.

11

:

Yet, it'll never be enough.

12

:

There's always more to see, more to do.

13

:

And more to become.

14

:

So I chose not to tiptoe.

15

:

I choose to take up space, make an

entrance, and walk the path less traveled.

16

:

And when necessary, I'll forge my own way.

17

:

I will never allow myself to be small or

molded into someone else's version of me.

18

:

I ain't tiptoeing anymore.

19

:

Few people may remember I was

here, but those who knew me

20

:

will say she was fearless.

21

:

Not because I was devoid of

fear, but because I never

22

:

let fear dictate my journey.

23

:

Let's create memories.

24

:

Take that leap and do it

even when we're scared.

25

:

Because remember, we ain't tiptoeing.

26

:

I'm diving back in and bringing

more of my culture led podcast,

27

:

delving into the world of Black

love and Black romance novels.

28

:

During my treatment and now through

my recovery, of which I'm still on the

29

:

road to recovery, I embrace my love

of romance novels to get me through.

30

:

In keeping with that theme of

embracing second chances, today I

31

:

have an amazing novel to discuss.

32

:

One that delves into the

complexities of love, Loss,

33

:

and the journey to rediscover it.

34

:

Join me as I embark on the powerful

journey within the pages of

35

:

Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan.

36

:

Before I Let Go features a

divorced couple, Yasmin and Josiah.

37

:

This novel stands out from other

romance novels by portraying the

38

:

journey of a divorced couple.

39

:

Now that's a thing not

commonly explored in the genre.

40

:

They are very broken as

a couple and as a family.

41

:

They've been divorced for about two years.

42

:

They have two children, but they own

a business that they run together, a

43

:

restaurant in Atlanta called Grits.

44

:

It brings a sense of maturity and

relatability to the story, delving into

45

:

the complexities of adult relationships.

46

:

Yasmin and Josiah find themselves in

therapy and co parenting their children.

47

:

Their divorce was not an easy

decision, and the reasons behind

48

:

it are devastatingly relatable.

49

:

Their journey towards reconciliation

is both heart wrenching

50

:

and inspiring.

51

:

Through the dual perspectives

of Yasmin and Josiah,

52

:

we witnessed Their imperfections,

their struggles, and their growth.

53

:

It's a reminder that relationships are

a journey, and true love can find its

54

:

way back even after devastating losses.

55

:

Another captivating aspect of the book

is its integration of southern cuisine.

56

:

For all the food enthusiasts out there,

this novel serves up a delightful treat

57

:

with its mouth watering descriptions and

the inclusion of some incredible recipes.

58

:

I'm not a chef, so I

haven't tried any of the

59

:

in the book.

60

:

Prepare to savor the flavors and aromas

as you immerse yourself in the story.

61

:

One of the central themes in

Before I Let Go is the importance

62

:

of healing and self discovery.

63

:

Yasmin's journey in therapy

resonates so deeply with many

64

:

readers, including myself.

65

:

Learning to be gentle with oneself,

that's something I've had to

66

:

struggle with during my treatment.

67

:

And so I completely understand,

68

:

learning to forgive our failures

and grain ourselves some grace.

69

:

These are some vital lessons

we can all relate to.

70

:

It's empowering to see these

concepts normalized and

71

:

integrated into the storytelling.

72

:

Before I Let Go takes us on an emotional

rollercoaster as we witness the couple's

73

:

profound despair and brokenness.

74

:

Yasmine and Josiah face

unimaginable losses.

75

:

These events take a toll on

their relationship plunging them

76

:

into deep depression and grief.

77

:

However,

78

:

the story also offers

79

:

glimmers

80

:

of

81

:

Octavia Marie: hope and joy,

reminding us that even amidst

82

:

the darkness, there is hope.

83

:

Love and happiness can find a way,

and I needed that during my treatment.

84

:

There were some moments where I

85

:

could have gone down

86

:

a rabbit hole of depression, but reading

and reading this story and some of the

87

:

other novels that I read during treatment

helped me to stay above all of that.

88

:

But there's also this chemistry

between Josiah and Yasmin

89

:

that's kind of a slow burn.

90

:

I usually like

91

:

romance

92

:

novels a little bit more spicy, but

93

:

you can feel the attraction

is palpable between them.

94

:

Even though they're not a couple during

a big portion of the book, there's still

95

:

some real chemistry, you can feel it.

96

:

Which leads to a very

spicy garage sex scene.

97

:

I'm not gonna provide any spoilers there,

I'mma let you read that on your own.

98

:

When we start the book, Yasmin

has already been in therapy.

99

:

She's on antidepressants.

100

:

She's on the upswing.

101

:

And I think readers sometimes

get the impression Kennedy Ryan's

102

:

books are sad and heart wrenching.

103

:

Now don't get me wrong, Before

I Let Go definitely has some of

104

:

that, but there's also so much joy.

105

:

One of the great things about Before

I Let Go is that it's told from a

106

:

dual perspective, and I like that.

107

:

The book would have still been amazing

told from Jasmine's perspective,

108

:

but then as you get into the therapy

aspect of it, I think it's critical

109

:

in understanding what this couple is

going through, and I think getting these

110

:

moments of Josiah and his point of view.

111

:

are critical in this book.

112

:

I think having Josiah's point of

view was a much more immersive

113

:

storytelling experience.

114

:

Neither Josiah or Yasmin are perfect

characters and that's a good thing.

115

:

You're not going to agree with all of

their decisions and that's the point.

116

:

You get to go on their journey

with them and witness their

117

:

healing and how they grow.

118

:

As you read their story, you get to

see that there's a terseness in Josiah,

119

:

and I think if we had not gotten his

point of view in the storytelling,

120

:

we may not have understood him.

121

:

And I also think we wouldn't

have liked him as a character.

122

:

We, as readers, would have misunderstood

that part of his personality.

123

:

There's a part in the book

where Josiah snaps at Yasmin.

124

:

And because we're in his point

of view, when it happens,

125

:

he sees that he's hurt her.

126

:

He sees I've hurt her, and

he's like, I'm an asshole.

127

:

And he's asking himself,

how do people do this?

128

:

Like, it's so hard for me to be with her.

129

:

They have the rhythm of running

their business together, co

130

:

parenting their children, It's

a forced proximity of sorts.

131

:

So he's like, how do people do this?

132

:

How am I supposed to be with

her, but not be with her?

133

:

When I thought this was the person I

would spend the rest of my life with.

134

:

How do people pretend they're

not, you know, that the whole

135

:

world has not collapsed on them?

136

:

And they're like, you know

a beam is on their chest.

137

:

You know, he's like, how

am I supposed to do this?

138

:

And I feel like that kind of inner

dialogue, not having the benefit of

139

:

what we wouldn't really understand,

how hurt Josiah is by the divorce

140

:

and how much he resents losing her.

141

:

And he has this one line where he

says, I'm really bad at losing you.

142

:

And what I get from that is

that he's not good at doing life

143

:

without Yasmin as his partner.

144

:

Before I Let Go showcases the

complexities of grief, the various

145

:

ways that people cope with it.

146

:

Some characters run from grief,

while others confront it head on.

147

:

Kenny D.

148

:

Ryan masterfully explores different

types of mourning, from mourning a

149

:

relationship, to mourning the collapse of

a marriage, and the loss of loved ones.

150

:

I think it's a testament to the depth

and intricacy of the human experience.

151

:

One thing that struck a chord

with me personally was the

152

:

importance of self compassion.

153

:

Yasmin's journey mirrors my own

experience with my therapist where

154

:

I've learned to be gentle with myself

because I can be very hard on myself too.

155

:

I'm a classic firstborn older child

and as I started digging more into

156

:

that and giving myself grace, forgiving

yourself when you feel like you failed.

157

:

Before I Let Go beautifully

portrays the necessity of concepts

158

:

like grace and forgiveness.

159

:

for Yasmin.

160

:

but also for the readers who may

resonate with these struggles.

161

:

There's a lot of on page therapy

in this book, which I think is

162

:

meant to help normalize therapy.

163

:

While Yasmin has embraced

therapy, there are two very

164

:

emotional incidents in this book.

165

:

They send Yasmin into a very deep

depression, but Josiah really

166

:

doesn't stop to process his grief

and the cumulative losses, including

167

:

losing his wife to divorce.

168

:

It's a lot of loss and Josiah starts

off very resistant to therapy, which is

169

:

also so relatable because so many people

are resistant to therapy, primarily

170

:

because they view it as stigmatizing.

171

:

so I think this was an amazing arc

for the character as a model for those

172

:

people to see themselves and to see his

growth, to see how much therapy really

173

:

was a part of Josiah's healing journey.

174

:

This feels like a romance for grown ups.

175

:

There's living and life in

their story that I think so

176

:

many women will connect with.

177

:

It's a powerful story about a divorced

couple and their reconciliation and

178

:

then the life that they lived and

built together and how they were

179

:

able to overcome the hard balls

from life and kind of prioritize

180

:

themselves in their relationship.

181

:

As I watch and talk to my close friends

about marriage and life, One thing I

182

:

learned is that they all come to a point

in their marriage where they're like, Am

183

:

I going to be able to do this forever?

184

:

Or, you know, this person

really gets on my nerves, and

185

:

I really get on their nerves.

186

:

Or, you know, they just have

those kind of bumps in the road.

187

:

I think Kennedy Ryan skillfully

crafts this layered narrative,

188

:

expertly balancing the moments of

heartache with moments of levity.

189

:

Before I Let Go is an emotional and

powerful tale that will resonate

190

:

with readers evoking tears, laughter,

and a renewed appreciation for

191

:

the strength of the human spirit.

192

:

So that's it for me for now.

193

:

Thank you again for joining me

on this exploration of Before

194

:

I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan.

195

:

I hope I've piqued your interest and

inspired you to dive into this heartfelt

196

:

and transformative second-chance romance.

197

:

Join us next time

198

:

as we uncover more remarkable

199

:

black romance

200

:

Octavia Marie: novels.

201

:

Until then,

202

:

Octavia Marie: keep reading and

203

:

embracing the beauty of

love in all its forms.

About the Podcast

Show artwork for Culture Lit
Culture Lit

About your host

Profile picture for Octavia Dosier

Octavia Dosier