As we can see in https://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/pastperfect.html
If the past perfect is not referring to an action at a specific time, past perfect is not optional. Compare the examples below. Here past perfect is referring to a lack of experience rather than an action at a specific time. For this reason, simple past cannot be used.
She never saw a bear before she moved to Alaska. Not Correct
She had never seen a bear before she moved to Alaska. Correct
But I found the next sentences in the textbooks:
I never was in such a difficult situation before.
Before I went to the university, I worked as a carpenter for 5 years
So, is the quotation in the beginning wrong? And may we write "She never saw a bear before she moved to Alaska." by analogy with "I never was in such a difficult situation before ?"