Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Book Review: Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

Members of the Vise Library were selected to review Before We Were Strangers.  We received a copy of Renee Carlino's book for an honest review.

About the book:

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?

When this book starts, you are taken to present day in Matt's life.  He is unhappy at his job, divorced, and overall not thrilled with life.  One day at lunch he sees "the girl that got away" while waiting on a train.  They do not get a chance to speak, but he still thinks about her.  The book then takes you in the past where Matt meets Grace (aka TGTGA).  They build a solid friendship that turns into more.  However, Matt is a photography major and gets the chance of a lifetime to photograph with National Geographic.  Matt doesn't think their relationship will be affected, but, of course (isn't it always??), it is (with the help of someone's doing).  Grace ends up traveling herself with an orchestra and they lose touch.  We are then taken back to the present where they reconnect through Craigslist, of all places.  They have to figure out if what they had before is as good as they thought it would be and if their previous connection from 15 years before is enough.   I think because Grace and Matt started out as friends it is easy to see why they felt like something was missing from their lives.  Life and people are imperfect.  This book shows you that and that sometimes you have to go through the tough stuff to appreciate the amazing stuff.  This book also shows you (through Grace) that you do have to have faith in people or you will miss out on the important things (and life!).  Everyone makes mistakes, but sometimes you have to brave enough to correct them!
Buy the book:
       Barnes and Noble
      Parnassus Books

About the author:

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of New Adult and contemporary women's novels. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY and Latina magazine. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she's not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com

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