Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 18th 2015
My rating: 4 stars
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? M
You know when you read a blurb for a book for the first time and fall in love with it? That was me Before We Were Strangers. I’m always a sucker for missed romances and characters given a second chance. From the first moment I met Matt and Grace I knew they were meant to be, they didn’t have the insta-love going on, but had that instant connection that I knew would take them places. Also the sweet build up of their relationship Carlino did so well, like I mentioned they didn’t jump straight into bed together, there was a lot of unspoken things holding Matt and Grace (which could come across as frustrating at times, as it was blatantly obvious that no other person could obviously be perfect for Matt and Grace than each other). But the sweet slow build up of a relationship is my favourite type. I like both characters getting taking the time to figure each other out and slowly getting to know one another. The interactions and sweet gestures (more so from Matt) between Grace and Matt were just delightful! I found myself re-reading over my favourite passages and just smiling away and watching things pan out. And when Matt and Grace finally took that tentative final step it was worth it! I knew from reading the blurb that this beautiful relationship wouldn’t last forever, but I was looking forward to reaping in as much of the gorgeous relationship as I could. I enjoyed watching Grace come out of her shell more with the encouragement from Matt. I loved how Matt continually held Grace on this pedestal when he was with her (more so when he took her back home to meet his not so great family) and how he was always doting on her. Their love for each other was always apparent, it was a love that I never grew tired of nor did I ever want to let go, you know that sort of love people talk about and how it takes up their entire being? This was exactly that.
Carlino wonderfully gave us the story of Matt’s and Grace’s relationship through perspectives from both Matt and Grace before and now. To be honest when we first got the change over from Matt to Grace, I was sort of disappointed because Matt’s voice was done so well. It usually takes me time to adjust to a male perspective, but I couldn’t get enough of the pages that we got from Matt. His voice was vibrant, considerate, caring and his love for Grace was apparent from every single page. I love guys who put their heart and feelings on the line and Matt was exactly one of those characters, he wasn’t afraid to show his feelings or get choked up when things got tough, through his actions and beautiful words it was apparent that his love and affection for Grace was one of a kind and limitless. As you can tell I was a massive fan of Matt both in the past and in the now, I was able to connect tremendously with him, his heartache and his incredible journey he had to go through. That’s not to say I didn’t admire Grace, I loved watching her character develop and the growth she went through and although at first I wanted to stay with Matt’s perspective, I liked the smooth switches that Carlino gave between Matt and Grace’s perspectives, as the story progressed the story flowed effortlessly and beautifully between both characters.
Carlino gave us such a beautiful and heartbreaking story of Matt and Grace in Before We Were Strangers. Their journey although was never smooth sailing and had many miscommunications along the way, it was one that I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of. One other thing that made this story for me was I loved how Grace and Matt when they first met had their own little talent, Matt’s was photography and Grace was a talented musician. And then when we got to meet with them 15 years later I enjoyed learning about how they progressed with it. Overall Before We Were Strangers was a book I’m thoroughly happy that I picked up; it spans a one of a kind, beautiful relationship that readers wouldn’t want to miss out.