Release Day Review: Before We Were Strangers by Renée Carlino

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Goodreads’ 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?

-M

Giselle’s Review: 

Beautifully crafted, incredibly unique, unforgettable- just a few of the words I would use to describe Before We Were Strangers. This novel…this novel is heartbreakingly good, emotional, poignant, vivid, simple and then complex. Before We Were Strangers completely surpassed all my expectations- and it also gave me unbelievably high expectations about Craigslist, like should I get on that website immediately so I can live the story of Matt and Grace or…???

My heart could not deal with all the emotions this novel evoked in me- I mean, those are the best kinds of novels, the ones that make you feel so much it becomes a physical ache. Love: I felt so much love for Matt and Grace and their beautiful, whirlwind college romance, and in the end, for their story as a whole. Anger and frustration: Have you ever been so angry and frustrated with a fictional character, or felt those emotions alongside them, that it almost physically pained you? Yup, expect to feel some of that too. Sadness: My heart utterly and completely broke for Matt and Grace and the demise of that aforementioned beautiful college romance. Elation: Before We Were Strangers was an exhilarating journey that manage to put a smile (several, actually) on my face.

To say this was an emotional roller-coaster ride of a read would be very appropriate, but it was also such a beautifully written story, that all the emotions I went through were so worth it. Renée Carlino has such a poetic and elegant way of writing that she could probably write about the strangest subjects and I would still be enraptured because SHE wrote it.

So combine an incredible writer, an emotional story-line, unique, relatable, and down-to-earth characters, the lively New York City scenery, love and all its mishaps, and you’ve got yourself the amazing novel that is Before We Were Strangers. A story about a once-in-a-lifetime romance that will have you reeling and crying and smiling and falling in love… with love.

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