9 August 2015

Review #295: Before We Were Strangers by Renée Carlino

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“That’s the thing about life. You don’t always get a second chance and there are no guarantees. Love is the only thing that really matters.” 

----Linda Becker, an American author

Renée Carlino, USA TODAY bestselling author, pens her latest tear-jerking new adult book, Before We Were Strangers, which is a love story between two people who met at college but then got separated because of their career and jobs, now after a decade and a half when they became strangers to each other, they meet again, and are they once again willing to relive the past as well as willing to write their unfinished love story?


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?


Having never read any book by this author, so I had no idea what to expect from this book, especially, when the synopsis sounded like a classic Holly cheesy romantic movie. But the moment I started reading, my whole perspective changed. Even though I do not prefer cheesy love dramas that are emotional as well as predictable with happy endings, but this book pulled the chords of my hearts like a guitar and let it play with it's tune. In one word, this book is something more than just emotional or something more than that will give tears of joy as well as pain. This book also made me wanna fall in love again and heart-breaks can be this beautiful, I never imagined that before.

Matthias meets Graceland once again in a subway station fifteen years later and for a fleeting moment, their eyes locked with recognition and warmth hidden in their eyes, but before they Matt could say hello, Grace was gone yet one more time. Then when his friend suggested to write an ad in the "Missed Connections" section in Craigslist, he waits with the hope that his Green-eyed Lovebird would find it and write it back, months passed nothing happened, when Grace's friend shows her the ad. So after a decade and a half, are they going to give their love a second chance?

Fifteen years ago, Grace and Matt in their college in the senior year. Both were equally talented, Grace- a talented musician and Matt- an extraordinary photographer. From being dorm neighbors to having same taste of likes, they instantly became best friends and their friendship is something which is very precious, but it took time for them to fall in love with each other and when they did it felt like reading one of the best love stories in this world. Then Matt takes up a job opportunity with National Geographic at South Africa and since Grace belong from a poor family, she had to stay over to take care of her family by earning money. Thus separating them from each other, and little did they knew, they would meet again not in the near future but a decade later.

The writing style is crisp and articulate and layered with lots of emotions. The narrative flows freely and smoothly and though the story is told from both Matt and Grace's alternate POV, the transition from one POV to another is done effortlessly and smoothly by the author. The prose is elegant as well as emotional that questioned me with all the probable things when it comes to choosing love over life.

The characters of Matt and Grace are drawn with lots of realism and their honest voice made me fall in love with their pain, heartbreak as well as with their troubled lives. Matt is an extremely likeable character, and don't you worry for a moment, guys like Matt are real and they exist everywhere, we women just fall for the wrong one every single time. Matt's love for Grace is portrayed deeply that is bound to move anyone whoever reads the book. Grace found herself when she was with him and Matt defined her. Grace, on the other hand, is also a sweet character, but her hardships as well as her decisions to move away from Matt made it hard on me to accept her with open arms. But what Matt and Grace went through in their lives, actually tells the story of every other unfinished love stories that began in college. Yes, and thus I could really relate to both of them. The supporting characters are too strongly developed.

And for "the one that got away" in our lives, this story hits the deepest core of our hearts while reading it. I mean we all have "the one that got away", but through this story the author projected so very well and with vividness that what happens when we meet them yet one more time. Insecurities aside, are we all willing to take a chance for the second time at our unfinished love stories, I guess, sometimes second chances are like miracles and to pass that chance is sheer foolishness, and that's what the author manages to convey through this beautiful, engrossing as well as evocative love story.

Verdict: Definitely a must read book, and I'm pretty sure you'll be thanking me later for having you recommended this book.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author's publishers for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book. 

Author Info:
Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of romantic women's novels. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.
Visit her here 

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