This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino
Published by Atria on August 18, 2015
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Drama, New Adult, Romance
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From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a love story about a Craigslist “missed connection” post that gives two people a second chance at love fifteen years after they were separated in New York City.
To the Green-eyed Lovebird:
We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.
You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.
We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.
Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…
I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.
After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?
I am so happy there are authors like Renee Carlino in my life. Her writing is very different, it’s beautiful and it’s humble. Her characters reach out to you finding that place within yourself where they can settle in and take you on a journey. Before We Were Strangers is no different and never has there been a more aptly named book. I didn’t get it at first, I’m not sure I was supposed to. I needed Matt and Grace’s story first.
I didn’t think Renee could top Will from Sweet Thing. I certainly didn’t think I would ever find another man to replace him. Matt though is definitely in the running. I wasn’t sure what to think of Matt, in the beginning I was into him. It was his college self I wasn’t too sure about. This was really his story to tell though, so I had to reserve my judgement tell the end. This story felt like hope. Remember your early twenties? You’re an adult but not really. Still trying to find yourself and figure out what you want in life. Experiencing new friendships, and new love, some more than once all while kicking back and just loving life. Struggling in college or not life was exciting, it was real.
But when you speed up what’s the story now? Where did you end up? How’s life treating you? Because that’s what Before We Were Strangers is about. It’s the after story. When you fell in love with someone and it didn’t work out. What happens next…
Renee Carlino did this story justice by making it primarily in Matt’s point of view. I think if it had been from Grace’s I would feel totally different and not in a good way. I needed this to be Matt’s story as much as he did. I loved grown up Matt. I loved all his insecurities, his worries, his regret, and his hope. Here he is a grown man well into his thirties having to find himself for real. Realizing that his hopes and dreams really hadn’t been met and could he live with that? Where was he going and how did he get to where he was. Confusing I know but you’ll get it, just like I did.
Grace’s character was a bit of an enigma to me. I really didn’t get her. I’m not sure I connected fully with her and that’s okay. That aspect didn’t make or break the book for me. I just didn’t connect plain and simple. She though was a catalyst. Her actions and reactions were needed for Matt’s story. His full circle couldn’t happen without that presence. Obviously she’s a huge part of this story. But we all know people come and go from our lives molding and affecting us in ways we don’t always understand at first. Some have this profound, moving presence immediately. Something about them stays with us for years and years. Some are in and out leaving echoes that ripple through us in the years to come popping up when we least expect.
Regardless, each of us has a journey. Before We Were Strangers is the story of one journey and how first love never leaves us. However circumstances change, life progresses, decisions are made, and other paths are followed. Sometimes love finds us again…sometimes it doesn’t.
I always look for forward to reading a Renee Carlino book and I’m excited to see where she takes me next.
*A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
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