Before We Were Strangers: A Love Story by Renée Carlino (Book Review) #WCW
I am officially in a relationship with Renée Carlino’s writing. Thanks to a recommendation from a fellow book buddy, I requested a copy of Before We Were Strangers: A Love Story from NetGalley and Atria was gracious enough to grant me an ARC. 3% into the book and I am quickly falling in love with not only the characters and narrative style but with New York City (again). I may not be a native New Yorker but having lived here for the majority of my life, I’ve eagerly embraced it as my own and find it fascinating when it serves as a backdrop to a beautiful story. Renée Carlino not only did it justice, it reacquainted me with its charm and allure that attracts so many and keeps others coming back for more. Matt and Grace’s experience are a perfect example of the magic and idiosyncrasies that make New York such a vivid character in a story you won’t soon forget. If you’ve never heard of this amazing writer, I urge you to grab your copy like yesterday (Amazon). If you read anything this summer or this year for that matter, let this be your one great literary escapade. Check out the blurb and my review below.
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?
Renée Carlino has gained a fan. Before We Were Strangers is easily one of my top books of this year and I would gladly shout it from the mountain tops. The blurb had me at hello and the story gutted me completely in the best possible way. Laced with a heavy dose of nostalgia, the narrative makes you long for a time when simplicity seemed to be the key to happiness.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
At 36, Matthias Shore leads a successful professional life. Having been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in photography and working at National Geographic while getting to see the world hardly seems worth it without being able to share it with a certain Green-Eyed Lovebird. In true Ron Livingston style circa Office Space, Matt has had enough of his current situation and yearns for change, preferably one that will not include working in the same building as his cheating and very pregnant ex-wife and her new husband. The ghost of his past and object of his affection materializes feet away after a decade and a half on a crowded NYC subway platform.
“If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” -Billy Preston
Grace Porter stands on a NYC subway platform awaiting her train. Always listening to the music of the lively city, naturally she rocks on her feet feeling the pulse of the concrete jungle. Having carried on for years in a fog-like state, she’s settled on a steady life rhythm until her favorite blast from the past is staring awe-stricken from the other side of the closing doors. In a city with millions of people and without any contact information, fate finds a way to reunite the estranged pair for one last trip down memory lane.
Speed walking, pay phones and actually engaging in conversation with others without the use of social media are seemingly archaic concepts that come alive and transport us to a time of what might have been where we relive the unconventional yet unforgettable love story of Matt and Grace.
In this day and age where we’re so technologically connected yet less in touch with each other, Before We Were Strangers reminds us that although life doesn’t often unfold the way we would prefer, love will always find a way. And sometimes missed connections and second chances make for a perfect HEA.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
For more information about Renée Carlino’s other works and future projects, make sure to check out the links to her social media platforms on her author page.