Saturday, August 15, 2015

Book Review: BEFORE WE WERE STRANGERS by Renee Carlino

Genre: New Adult
Publication Date: 18 August 2015


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?



What a sweet love story, I loved Matt and Grace. Their story was the kind of romance is only found once in a lifetime and so no matter life choices, timing, and/or the circumstances, it's the kind of love the heart can never let go.

You can’t re-create the first time you promise to love someone or the first time you feel loved by another. You cannot relive the sensation of fear, admiration, self-consciousness, passion, and desire all mixed into one because it never happens twice. You chase it like the first high for the rest of your life.

These two characters meet during college, a time where both of them didn't know what the future held. Yet, it was also a time full of many possibilities so between the attraction and strong connection they first shared, Grace and Matt immediately became "fast friends." I really loved how their romance began, it was carefree, authentic, and fun. Just two best friends falling in love with each other, sharing every moment, and taking it all into memory. Oh that was so special to their story, the memories. How Matt as a photography major was always taking pictures and capturing all those precious moments with Grace. And her, the talented music major, so passionate about creating music with her cello and sharing it all with Matt. The two of them were just in a high-paced college romance that even though it had a lot of reality to it, they always managed to make it special and worth it.

You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.

But even with that tender love and all the good intensions, they couldn't stop life from happening to them and so they're forced to make some tough decisions that soon enough take over their present and future. It's until fifteen-years later that they find each other once again and the way that happens was really unique and heartfelt, I loved it. From the very beginning I could feel the magic between these two characters so when they reconnect again, it truly made me happy. However, reconnecting was just the start of their story. The plot soon reveals that there were too many loose ends, unanswered questions, and two broken hearts that needed healing for the story to yet come full circle. So I was excited and anxious to know what happened to their story but thankfully, the author surprised me in such a delightful way. She not only made me love this second chance romance more by the end with how she reconnects two true soul mates, but also by beautifully amending their imperfect and broken love story. Because Matt and Grace were always a love meant to be and their story proved that against all the odds and missed connections.

Weren’t we though? Timeless? Nothing could change what we’d had all those years before, even if the idea of what might’ve been lingered between us.


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