Wednesday 30 September 2015

Review ~ Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

I thought that this review had been posted but I was looking for it and couldn't find it, so though it was released last month, this book is too good not be talked about, so for today's review I am posting Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino.

Book Description:

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?


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Our Review:

Reviewed by Donna ~ 4.5 stars

“Once there was a you and me.
We were lovers.
We were friends.
Before life changed.
Before we were strangers.
Do you still think of me?”

For me this was one of the cleverest blurbs I had ever read, if any blurb pulls you in, it would be this one. As soon as I read it, I wanted it and I had been itching for release day. The pull from the heart on the sleeve post had me salivating for more; I wanted to know all about M and his Green-eyed Lovebird.

I love second chance love; there is something about revisiting old feelings that makes the new ones that bit deeper. I understand that some don’t work because you obviously split for a reason but when that reason is miscommunication it always leaves it open ended with no closure and that was exactly the situation that these two found themselves in.

“You have to learn to fly before you can soar.”

Even though they had been apart for so long, they had never forgotten each other and that was the one thing that kept me going. That initial love was bone deep and that kind of love is hard to forget and with a life full of “What If’s” these two needed to reconnect, I was praying that they did.

“…that’s why my mother always said we memorialize our past. Everything seems better in a memory.”

Grace and Matt’s story spans over fifteen years and flicks back from past to present. Normally this can be confusing if not executed right but with these past chapters we were treated to a first love that I was glad I hadn’t missed. It was these past chapters that gave us real insight into these two as a couple and what had really happened all those years ago that eventually led to them being estranged.

Matt and Grace met at University, both were oddballs in their day but their weird and quirky ways drew them together. They both had a flair for the arts and it was this mutual love that drew them together in a firm friendship. It takes a while for those lines to blur and blur they do and soon their friendship turns to love and it was a soul mate kind of love, I felt it all. Sometimes though, all good things come to an end and end they do, it hurt…for them and for me too.

“You can’t recreate the first time you promise to love someone or the first time you feel loved by another. You cannot relive the sensation of fear, admiration, self-consciousness, passion, and desire all mixed into one because it never happens twice. You chase it like the first high for the rest of your life.”

Fast forward to the present and a chance glimpse on a crowded platform leads Matt into trying to find the once love of his life. It was so beautiful. I really want to go into details, but I can’t. I could go on for an eternity about the love I had for this couple but I won’t. You need to experience this journey yourself.

Renee Carlino has this knack of drawing you into her characters hearts and heads. You live and breathe their story and this one is no different. My heart was pumping for the majority of this book and I was rooting for these two from the very beginning. Yes, miscommunication is one of my pet peeves but the way that this was executed into this story, it worked and even though I should have been annoyed, I wasn’t. Yes I was annoyed at the characters but I understood to a degree, my only little niggle was that I felt that Matt didn’t try hard enough after they split to find her, but again, I could understand.

“The present is our own. The right-this-second, the here-and-now, this moment before the next, is ours for the taking. It’s the only free gift the universe has to offer. The past doesn’t belong to us anymore and the future is just a fantasy, never guaranteed. But the present is ours to own. The only way we can realize our fantasy is if we embrace the now.”

There was one plot device that I saw coming a mile away, but again, it worked. I did think it was all a bit anti-climactic when it was revealed as I thought the twist may have been something else but none the less this did nothing to detract what was an emotional, extremely engaging read. This was one of those reads that I can see myself re-reading over and over again. While the characters may not have been perfect, they were together and they were to me. While their time may not have been in the past they now had a chance at a future and it is this that keeps those pages turning. A beautiful, entrancing, thoroughly engaging read that I couldn’t put down and one that I can highly recommend.

“…my life wasn’t real without you. It was just a series of days all strung together by a bunch of regrets.”

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