Review: Before We Were Strangers

Hi, Flamingos!

I trust that everyone is well and having a great start of the week! Mine pretty much starts out the same, no exciting news or happenings to look forward to. Given that my career is in events, this 9-hour job is just exhausting everything in me.

Honestly, if I didn’t need the money, I would rather just lounge around the house and spend my days reading. But oh well, I’m not privileged with such good life but in the future, I’m sure I’ll have all the time in the world to read ’til my heart’s content! I’m planning to launch my small business soon; it will be a side business until its fully ready to hold up on its own and increase the income to match my basic necessities.

Moving forward, a review is here! I finished Before We Were Strangers by Reneè Carlino, just last night. When I was around 10-years old, my mom didn’t have enough money to buy me brand new books and here in the Philippines, book sales consist mostly of medical and religious books but for fiction–it focuses highly on Adult Fiction. My mom loves to read, and I believe I got that from her; so to satisfy my hungry baby mind then, I dived into the works of fiction. My childhood consisted of Danielle Steel and Sidney Sheldon, hence the love for crimes and mystery.

Now that I’m earning my own money, and have a few ones to spare for books, I am finally able to buy more YA. However, my respect and appreciation for Adult Fiction had not faded completely. Earlier this year, I fell in love with Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan –it was a great start to accustom myself with adult fiction again.

I never would have known about Before We Were Strangers if it weren’t for GabbyReads youtube channel. She’d talked about the book constantly and how she loved it so much. I finally gave in, and got an ebook of the novel.

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Title: Before We Were Strangers

Author: Reneè Carlino

Publication Date: August 18, 2015

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 320 pages

Format: epub / ebook

Goodreads Synopsis:

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?

M

Weren’t we though? Timeless? Nothing could change what we’d had all those years before, even the idea of what might’ve been lingered between us.

A plus - Flamingo 2

Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

You can’t re-create the first time you promised to love someone or the first time you feel loved by another. You cannot relive the sensation of fear, admiration, self-consciousness, passion and desire all mixed into one because it never happens twice.

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• I loved the backstory of Matt and Grace. It was refreshing and bold, yet it flashes an invisible sign of proceed with caution or love at your own risk.
• ‎Before We Were Strangers is a well-written story about a love once lost, only to be found years later and realize nothing’s changed at all.
• ‎I loved the certainty of Matt towards Grace. His feelings have been direct and simple, no going around the bush. He’s loved her from the start and that was that.
• ‎I loved that it didn’t revolve around why the relationship didn’t work out the first time, or in the reasons why they grew apart in the past. Rather, it focused on the good things, the positive and the negatives of their past.
• ‎I love the simplicity of their relationship. It makes it so natural and relatable.
• ‎The emotions and actions of these characters felt real; they weren’t exaggerated or stretched out too thinly.
• ‎All the characters were memorable, despite having a few of them. They left an impact and a lasting memory in my head.

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• I didn’t so much enjoy too much discussion of their sex life. At some point, it felt as if all they did was that and that the relationship revolved around the excitement of touching and making love to each other. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are couples who see sex as an important component of their relationship. All I’m saying is, I would’ve liked to get more of their mushy couple activities, though there had been a lot of that too–in short I’m just asking for more.

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• I rated the book 4.5 because of some things that didn’t sit comfortably with me. One of them being, the deceit was handled all too easily. It caused strings of events to occur (and almost destroyed your life), and yet the book still managed to give it enough emphasis.
• ‎There were so many overwhelming happenings towards the last five or so chapters, and it felt a bit abrupt. It felt as if the author chose to speed things up, instead of increasing the length of the book at least another two chapters to cover and make the situation more reality-based. I would have loved to see more of their family’s new lives, how the characters adjusted.
• ‎Lastly, what ended the marriage of Matt–the very reason behind this, it makes my blood boil. It’s never okay, and you can never expect anyone to get over or forgive such a serious matter just because they apologized for it. I could just never accept and learn to understand that kind of betrayal and the reasons why some people do it. If you’ve read the book, you’ll understand this (I haven’t figured out how to write spoilers, then have them appear as a button for people’s option to read it or not.)

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All in all, it was such a great book. I am glad to be able to carry these characters, their experiences and their lives inside my heart for the rest of time.

I related a lot with Grace during their senior year at college. Having first fall in love, dealing with friends and first relationships, the reality of adult life where money is a necessity. Though all these, I’ve not gone through during my college days but just a year ago. It was hard dealing with excitement and moving forward in the relationship with caution, so as not to overdo or smother my partner. I can definitely see mysely recommending this continuously to a lot of people in the future.

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I’m sorry if that was quite long, guess I just have a lot of things to share that occurred over the weekend. Anyway, please don’t forget to visit and support my bookstagram account: @reeyuhbeegale, I will highly appreciate it. Also, I’ll be hosting an international giveaway soon as I reach 300 followers on Instagram!

Don’t hesitate to leave me some comments, I don’t bite! Watch out for an upcoming PH Blog Tour here at Reading Flamingo, for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, towards the end of October.
QOTD: Do you have a “the one that got away” moment in your life? Do you still think about it until today?

With love,

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Abi, the Flamingo

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