• US Edition

The Ethan I Was Before

Partly a mystery, partly a poignant exploration of grief and the daunting journey back to hope, this moving debut is in the vein of BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and THREE TIMES LUCKY.

Ali Standish’s breathtaking debut is a poignant middle grade novel of friendship and forgiveness, The Ethan I Was Before is a classic in the making.

Ethan had been many things. He was always ready for adventure and always willing to accept a dare, especially from his best friend, Kacey. But that was before. Before the accident that took Kacey from him. Before his family moved from Boston to the small town of Palm Knot, Georgia.

Palm Knot may be tiny, but it’s the home of possibility and second chances. It’s also home to Coralee, a girl with a big personality and even bigger stories. Coralee may be just the friend Ethan needs, except Ethan isn’t the only one with secrets. Coralee’s are catching up with her, and what she’s hiding might be putting both their lives at risk. The Ethan I Was Before is a story of love and loss, wonder and adventure, and ultimately of hope. 

Rights details

UK: Orchard (Hachette Children\'s Group), (Summer 2017)
USA/Canada: HarperCollins (Winter 2017)
Turkey: Yabanci Yayinlari
Persian rights: Porteghal
Romania: Corint
Russia: KompasGid

Good news

Middle-Grade Nerdie Award for Best Novels of 2017

THE 2017 NERDIES: Middle Grade Fiction ANNOUNCED BY Colby Sharp

Best New Books for Preteens and Tweens Jan 2017

” . . .breathtaking . . .a classic in the making. The Ethan I Was Before is a story of love and loss, wonder and adventure, and ultimately of hope.”



Junior Library Guild Selection Winter 2017

Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Debut author Standish boldly tackles themes of death, guilt, and forgiveness in this tender coming-of-age story. Twelve-year-old Ethan Truitt blames himself for a tragic accident involving his best friend, Kacey. To help Ethan recover, his parents uproot the family from their Boston home and move to Georgia. In the town of Palm Knot, Ethan tries to adapt to living in his grumpy Grandpa Ike’s dilapidated house, fit in at school, and avoid his older brother, Roddie, who is angry about the family’s relocation. Ethan befriends a imaginative and daring girl named Coralee, and the two are soon having the kinds of adventures Ethan once shared with Kacey and thought he’d never have again. While building suspense by withholding what exactly happened between Ethan and Kacey until well into the story, Standish movingly conveys Ethan’s persistent grief and guilt, which Coralee and others helps him think about in new ways. Readers will be riveted as Ethan, his family, and other well-developed characters face the somber realities of life head on. Ages 8–12

Independent Booksellers’ Debut Picks of the Season

Selected by the American Booksellers Association as an Indie Introduce middle-grade title for Winter/Spring 2017


The Author

Ali Standish

A native of North Carolina, where she now lives, Ali Standish spent several years as a teacher/program administrator in the Washington DC Public School system. She has an MFA in Children’s Writing from Hollins University. THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE, Ali’s classic-feeling, thought-provoking and moving debut, was published by Harper Collins (North America) and Orchard (UK) in 2017.  Her second book – AUGUST ISLE (North America)/THE SECRET SUMMER (US) is out now.  Her super book for younger, dog-loving readers BAD BELLA is out in the States at the end of 2019.  Ali is currently working on other terrific MG which will be published in 2020 and 2021.



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