Review: 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’ve only read one book by Renee Carlino, Sweet Thing, and since it wasn’t really much for me I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this one. But then it was everywhere, it was basically haunting me, on twitter, goodreads, instagram, everywhere. So I think it was fate. And I actually loved it so freaking much!

Time passes, life goes on, places change, people change. And still, I couldn’t get Grace off my mind after seeing her in the subway. Fifteen years is too long to be holding on to a few heart-pounding moments from college.

First of all, the cover and the blurb totally sold this story for me, the cover is beautiful and the blurb prepares you perfectly for what’s to come in the book. After fifteen years of no contacts, Matt sees Grace again, without getting a chance to talk to her though, so he starts looking for her.

You can’t recreate the first time you promise 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 beacuse it never happens twice.

Then it goes back in time, to tell their past story, from their meeting till the very last conversation. Although the story wasn’t particularly original, the characters were. Grace is a free spirit, she has a way of doing things differently, with feeling. I don’t know it was really refreshing. And Matt looks at her with so much wonder in his eyes, everything is better, brighter, and funnier with Grace. They immediately become best friends, they’re inseparable.

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. But the present is ours to own. The only way we can realize that fantasy is if we embrace the now.

Soon, the two of them become more, and it’s incredible. But they were young, life and ambitions got in the way, and so it all ended. Then we go back to the present and see what happened in those fifteen years; they both moved on, lived their lives, but never forgot about each other. How could they?

I though, if I ever saw him again, he’d look right through me, like I was a ghost from the past. That’s how he made me feel that summer after college: someone who no longer existed. But when I saw him in the station, his eyes locked on mine. He recognized me instantly, and all I could see in his face was pure wonder. It was like he was seeing the sunset over the ocean for the first time.

This was a really great story, beautifully written, and with characters so well defined, you’ll love them. There are some big twists, lots of funny moments, and emotional ones. Truly heartwarming.

manuela calloway sisters


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