I've read Renee Carlino's work before and loved it (my review of Sweet Thing is here) so I was really looking forward to reading her latest, Before We Were Strangers. Did I love it as much as Sweet Thing? Not quite. Would I still recommend it? Absolutely.
Here's the synopsis:
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.This novel seems to be promoted as New Adult. In a way, it is...but only half of the story really fits into the New Adult category. The novel takes place at two different points in time. In one, the past, Matt and Grace have just met in college. The other is present day, fifteen years later, which means they're in their early thirties - not exactly New Adult. Is this really a problem? No, but a lot of people use categories and genres to decide whether or not they'd like to read a particular book. I'm closer to my thirties than I am New Adult so it didn't bother me as much as it would someone who was expecting a true NA story.
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?
Matt and Grace had a lot to work through once they reconnected. A lot. There were unanswered questions, which included a few where the other party had assumed the answer. This novel really showed that you should never assume you know what the other person is or was thinking and you should always talk things through when you finally have the chance. Of course, this is easy for me, the reader, to say! :) That was another little negative for me...I just didn't like how neither Matt nor Grace seemed to try very hard after they went their separate ways. There was almost too much drama surrounding it.
I liked that Carlino really kept me on my toes. I wasn't sure how things would work out between Matt and Grace. I really couldn't tell what would happen and the whole time I was hoping for a Happily Ever After (what can I say, I'm a sucker for happy endings). There were quite a few curve balls thrown into the story which I loved...even though it meant a lot of pain and heartache for the characters I had come to care about!
Second chance love stories are some of my favourites and, while Renee Carlino didn't hit it out of the park completely for me with this one, I did enjoy Before We Were Strangers. She's written two characters who are so real, and therefore flawed, who readers will love getting to know over the course of the novel. Do I think you should try this one if it piques your interest? Absolutely. But if there are other New Adult novels that you're looking at reading, maybe put this one on the to be read eventually, instead of immediately, list instead.
*An egalley of this copy was provided by Atria via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are honest and my own.*