Review: Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

» 27 August, 2015 » B Reviews, Renee Carlino » 0 comments

Title: Before We Were Strangers
Author: Renee Carlino
Date of Publication: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Atria Books
Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks
Rating: B

Book 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.

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?

This book sort of sneaked up on me. Despite the fact that it used one of my least favorite plot devices in romance ever, I still ended up liking this a lot.

Matt and Grace met during their senior year at NYU. Grace is a music major while Matt is photography. They immediately bonded from the moment they met through their mutual love of the arts and Jeff Buckley. Slowly but surely their friendship evolved from friendship into something more. They became inseparable but the end of college, miscommunication, and misunderstanding brought an end to their relationship. Their break-up had far-reaching implication on both of them. While they moved on with other people, they never really got over each other.

Fifteen years later, Matt saw Grace and everything came rushing back. But picking up the pieces of their relationship was harder said than done. And both Matt and Grace had to deal with secrets and resentments and a whole slew of other issues.

Before We Were Strangers was told in dual POV and is set in the past and the present. Renee Carlino slowly unravel the threads for her readers in her trademark prose, which I find really engaging. Grace was a free spirit and Matt is desperate to prove to his father that he didn’t make a mistake in choosing photography instead of law.

The first part was a bit slow but since I don’t mind slow, it wasn’t an issue for me. The only issue for me was the plot device used to break them up. I truly loathe the big misunderstanding/miscommunication plot device because it brings too much unnecessary drama and assumption that usually don’t end well for the characters and me as the reader. But like I said, despite that I felt for both Grace and Matt. They suffered the consequence of their actions. I didn’t mind the other plot device since I felt it was handled well. But again, the involvement of another character which I felt added to the length of their separation was grating. Ugh. Also, Matt was a wet noodle for not trying hard enough. I’m pretty sure we already have Internet in the late ’90s but he didn’t really try very hard to find Grace. Which was disappointing.

Still, this book tugged at my heartstrings. Plus the writing was stellar. I loved Renee Carlino’s voice. So despite my issues with the plot and the characters, this book touched me. I was rooting for the characters to get their HEA, and once my feelings get invested, those little annoyances usually fade into the background.

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