Molly McNamara Carter

In the not-too-distant future, Leadership controls everything and everyone, and a new regulation threatens to take away 13-year-old Wren’s little brother. Already reeling from her grandmother’s relocation, Wren must give up school, her friends, and the protection of her parents to save her little brother from the cold grip of efficiency. Can Wren and her brother survive the exhausting journey, the scorching desert, and the threatening grasp of Leadership to cross the border to safety and freedom?


  1. Reviewed by Readers’ Favorite

    “Efficiency is key for productivity, and productivity is key for safety.” This is the mind-numbing mantra of Leadership, which tries to control the masses by curtailing their rights and freedom. In the Leadership Lands, the government controls everything you do, all in the name of efficiency. Before by Molly McNamara Carter is a dystopian tale of a teen’s flight with her mute little brother from a totalitarian state to a land of freedom. When Leadership announces that children who require special care will be forcibly removed from their homes for re-education, permanently, Wren realizes she will lose her little brother Kael, who is unable to speak. Under cover of night, Wren is forced to flee the city with Kael, and cross many miles of forbidding desert while pursued by the agents ordered to prevent their escape at any cost.

  2. Reviewed by Readers’ Favorite

    I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure-packed YA dystopian thriller. Wren faces drones, soldiers, coyotes, scorpions, deadly heat, and terrifying storms. The threats to Wren and her little brother are tangible. There were multiple points in the book when my pulse was pounding, and I was fully invested in the story, and hiding there in the dark with them. Wren transforms during the adventure from a slightly rebellious, carefree teen to a responsible and determined young adult. It is a well-written, action-packed ride, but it’s more than that. This novel is a thought-provoking dive into a possible future devoid of freedom, all for the sake of efficiency. The world-building was immersive, the character development realistic, and the outlook hopeful. The cover art by Denitsa Shopova was stunning. Before by Molly McNamara Carter is perfect for lovers of dystopian teen fiction and coming-of-age adventures.

  3. Reviewed by Readers’ Favorite

    In the not-so-distant future, Leadership live by the phrase, “Efficiency is key for productivity, and productivity is key for safety.” Leadership controls all aspects of society. Thirteen-year-old Wren Capella, like all kids her age, is living at school when her studies are interrupted. Leadership announces a newly imposed rule. Those who have moved from the Producer Phase of life into Elderly Phase will be removed from society and placed in a facility where they can live with minimal drain of society’s resources. Wren’s beloved Gran will be moved from her parents’ home. Gran often tells Wren of The Before time when Leadership did not control society. Things only get worse when Wren goes home for the weekend to say her goodbyes to Gran and learns of another imposed rule. Children who require special assistance will be removed from their homes for re-education and placed in a permanent educational facility where they will create minimal drain on the resources of Producers. Wren’s four-year-old brother, Kael, struggles with speech and has been selected for re-education. Wren’s parents planned for this day. Knowing the danger if they all try to escape at once, they send Wren and Kael on their own through the desert to another land outside of the Leadership. With supplies, maps of an underground network of people and places, Wren and Kael take on the harrowing journey to freedom. Carter has crafted a breakneck-paced novel with an appealing and relatable hero in Wren. The novel is a page-turner that tweens who enjoy books like Divergent and The Giver will want to read. VERDICT This book is recommended for all public and school libraries and will appeal to a wide audience who are attracted to fast-paced, post-apocalyptic novels.

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