Review: Before We Were Strangers

Before We Were Strangers
by Renee Carlino

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?


TeriLyn's thoughts: ***Before We Were Strangers generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

My first Renee Carlino novel most definitely slayed me. Reading this great love story gave me reason to immediately one-click this author's previous love stories. Needless to say, this won't be the last time I fall entranced in the words of Renee Carlino.

Before We Were Strangers gives the reader a little bit of everything and gives in such a way I felt part of the New York City landscape in which this love story was set. It's a contemporary romance with New Adult woven into the middle of the story. Carlino structured the story in such a magnificent way that we meet Matt first as the book opens fifteen years after the year he met Grace at a time in his life he's holding to something he lost so many years ago. He's a man trying to make sense of his life. Learning of his current life and feeling so powerfully towards his melancholy outlook on where he ended up leaves a permanent mark on our reading hearts setting the stage for this book beautifully.

Jumping back in time, fifteen years in time, to Matt's senior year at NYU when he meets Grace. Two young, budding artists in their own right who click from the very moment they meet in such a natural way the readers know it's right. The wistful way in which Matt & Grace relive the memories of this vulnerable time in their lives perfectly represented the fragility and lasting effects of falling in the love for the first time. Carlino writes this time of their lives with such reverence and honesty as though nothing else is sacred to them. This author's words elevate the connection between these two characters for the reader in such a way we feel the joy of their friendship, the love of their passion, and the heart break of their devastation.

As they meet again in the present the story travels the theme of second chance love. How much can be forgiven? Will the scars of their past heal to seal their future? What went wrong all those years ago and how can we possible fix it now? For a while it's unknown but there was so much poignancy and beauty in that unknown that the story forever cemented itself in my heart.

I loved the characters of Matt and Grace, I love being told the story in parts and from both of their points of view. The secondary characters, friend and foe alike, all added something really special to the development of the book and the relationship between Matt and Grace.

I read Before We Were Strangers on a beautiful summer afternoon in the sun the perfect way to read this story full of angst, heartbreak, first love, second-chance love, regret, friendship, forgiveness - all set in a city where the impossible becomes possible where magic and music surrounds you - in the sun reading I felt alive with that same magic and music thanks to the excellent writing and story telling of Renee Carlino. I'm grateful for the opportunity allowing me to read this book and am so excited to discover more stories from this author.


RenĂ©e 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.


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Lori L. Clark

She Reads New Adult Admin: Lori L. Clark

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