Published by Atria Books on August 18, 2015
Genres: adult, contemporary, Romance
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?
Before we were Strangers is an adult contemporary romance set up over a course of almost two decades. I thought this book was going to be a new adult book when I bought it, and arguably the beginning of it is, because the characters start off in college, but this book was overall an adult book with the characters aging through a lot of their life. That was surprising to me, but overall this was still a really good read. I absolutely LOVE love love the premise of the book. Max and Grace had something going on in college and then for reasons unknown they went separate ways. They meet up again through a craigslist missed connection ad. I just love that idea. I think that was flat out brilliant on Renee Carlino’s part. It was the perfect blending of romance and technology in the online world we live in now.
The book is told both in dual narrative, as well as shifting between present day and various points in Grace and Matt’s past. I know that might sound a bit confusing but for the most part it worked really well. The past and present and the person were each identified really well, so you always knew who and where you were reading. For the most part, the book starts off in the middle of the story in Matt’s point of view and then it flashes back all the way to 15 years before when Matt was in college. From there it shifts between grace and Matt in large blocks of chapters each (not every other chapter switching) and tells the story in chronological order, taking it past the “initial” starting point when the book started. Have I confused you yet? Don’t worry, it actually works out well and is pretty easy to follow.
Before We Were Strangers took me on a total rollercoaster of emotions. It was happy, it was romantic, it was sad, it was poignant, it was bittersweet and a million other things that I have not hit on. This book was the very real journey with all the ups and downs of life thrown in to keep these two on their toes. I genuinely had no idea how their story was going to turn out until the very last page, and a happily ever after was never guaranteed. That made reading Before We Were Strangers a different kind of romance reading experience to me. All at once I loved and was very nervous and on edge that I didn’t know was going to happen. Not to mention that I really didn’t know if I was going to like Matt. I have never read a book before where I went from really liking a characters, to hating a character in the middle of the book and then liking him again. Normally, once I form an opinion about someone, it is really hard to sway me from my view of them. Not the case at all here. Renee Carlino really understands people. She has this way of crawling inside their heads and making them feel so utterly realistic that they could be anyone in your life. The good and the bad. This was the perfect, realistic modern day love story.Find out why @BookBriefs calls Before We Were Strangers by @renayz the perfect modern day love story. #Review Click To Tweet
I had no idea this wasn’t YA either to be honest, for some reason I thought it was too. It does sound like an interesting romance between the characters though and I like all the positives you mentioned for sure. Great review Michelle!
I love stories that develop over a long period of time. I think it’s because I need to know what happened next, and you make it sound like it will give me the feels too. This one has been on my TBR for a while. Great review!