Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Review: Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

Rating: 6 Cups of Coffee
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?


Natasha’s Experience:

This book is one of the most romantic, heartfelt and consuming books I've ever read. To say that I'm in love with it would feel like the biggest understatement, ever.

“Each day, I was learning how to simplify my life. Maybe that’s what growing up was really about. Adults say how complicated life gets as we age, but really, I think we just look for bigger challenges to overcome.”

BEFORE WE WERE STRANGERS is a second-chance love story about Matt and Grace, two NYU students who meet in the beginning of their senior year. They both live in the same dorm building and become fast friends. I love that they were honest-to-god best friends who loved to be in each other's company. They were inseparable and rarely went anywhere without the other -- not because they felt like they couldn't, but because they just didn't want to experience new things without the other standing right beside them.

“You can’t re-create the first time you promise to love someone or the first time you feel love 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.”

The story begins in the present and flashes back fifteen years to the year that Matt & Grace met. They were together for one incredible year, and lost touch whilst pursing their own careers. 

“The present is our own. The right-this-second, the here-and-now, this moment before the next, is ours for the taking. It’s the only free gift the universe has to offer. The past doesn’t belong to us anymore, and the future is just a fantasy, never guaranteed.”

Carlino incorporates music and photography flawlessly throughout the story -- Matt is an incredibly talented photographer with Grace as his beautiful muse. Grace is a highly gifted cellist who needs music like she needs air to breathe. Together, their creativity really shines and brings this amazing element to the story that is crucial to their relationship. They both know what they need to do to become successful, but they are finding it hard to balance their personal needs with their new relationship. 

Basically, any kind of story that can teach you life lessons, make your heart cry out and make you feel both incredibly sad, but joyous at the same time is the kind of story I never want to stop reading. I'm blessed, so insanely lucky, to have found a story that I finished reading with tears in my eyes and a more beautiful outlook on life, love and believing in second chances.


Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | IndieBound | Books-a-Million

About the Author

Renée Carlino 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 book, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. To learn more, visit ReneeCarlino.com.

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