Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino
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?
I shouldn’t have liked this book. It’s a contemporary love story without much plot. I normally hate those types of books. But I LOVED this story. I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up way too late several nights reading this book.
Matt, recently divorced, sees Grace on the subway, but it’s too late to talk to her. He spends the next month trying to find her. They had met in college 15 years earlier, and he hasn’t stopped thinking about her. His boss shows him how to write a Craigslist “missed connections” post in the hopes that she’ll read it.
The book starts off in Matt’s voice, which I loved. He’s funny and sincere. A quality guy who’s just had a rough time. Then it jumps back 15 years to the first day of his senior year of college when he met Grace. The majority of the book takes place in the past, switching voices from Matt to Grace as Carlino outlines their friendship and romance. Then it ultimately comes back to the present for the last 20% or so.
Grace was talented and creative and struggling to get by in NYC with almost no money. She and Matt became instant friends. I think their immediate connection drew me in almost as much as their obvious attraction. Their story is fun and raw and intense. It’s full of passion and sex, and it’s written so well.
I’m so glad I bought the Kindle version of this book because I know it’s one that I will re-read.
My Rating: 5 stars
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