Review: Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

Title: Before We Were Strangers

Author:Renee Carlino

Published by: Atria Books | 18 August 2015

Date Read: 09 February 2016

Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing andNowhere 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 am not new to Renee Carlino’s writing but from the emotional wreck that I’ve been through with reading two previous novel of hers I was quite hesitant to pick up another work of hers for fear of tears and heartbreak and another emotional wreckage. But I can’t help it, this story was just calling me.

I jumped into this book with no expectations aside from several tears here and there which is to be expected on Carlino’s work but in the end, Yes, I have tears in my eyes but reading this story surpassed all the non-existent expectations that I have. I immediately fell in the world of Grace and Matt – their friendship, love, silly antics, heartbreaking story and of course happy ending.

The story started with introducing us to Grace and Matt. Two college seniors who are both struggling on what their lives will be after graduation. They are the type of characters who are so easy to love. Grace with her passion for music and her quirky side jobs and silly antics and Matt with his own passion for photography and being just an overall nice guy.

From the beginning, Grace and Matt’s chemistry is there. I can feel the intensity when they look at each other. The sparks are literally flying everywhere! The friendship that they have was exceptional. I love how their relationship grows from being friends who do silly and crazy things together and just enjoying each other’s company to an exploding romantic relationship.

Then jumped to fifteen years later when life circumstances happened…

“I was in the middle of the city I loved, back in her arms again, but we were strangers. I was still hanging on to the past and I didn’t know why.”

 Grace and Matt was both able to achieve their life long dreams when they were in college but you just cant get it all right? Because on the way to reaching those dreams they got separated and that‘s the mystery for you to find out if you have not read this one yet. What happened? Why did they get separated?

“Time passes; life goes on, places changes, people changes. And still, I couldn’t get Grace off my mind…”

 Life has not been easy for the both of them separately. We get to see glimpses of their present life. But one thing that stood out for me is that they still constantly wonder about each other. Gosh, don’t even get me started on their reunion!!  I liked the 20’s Grace and Matt but them a bit older did not even fazed the chemistry that they have. Though they were apart for so long, the love and passion remains the same.

The plot of the story was nothing new but that way it was told in a very simple, deep, poignant and vivid way makes the story more special and straight to the heart with the emotion it carries. Emotional roller-coaster would be the best term to describe Grace and Matt‘s story as a whole – but it was all so worth it. I definitely fell in love.

Their story was sad yes. They were both victims of some unfortunate and scheming circumstance of life but recalling their story at the back of my mind – their ups and downs – makes me all happy as they achieved their own happiness. This is definitely one of those books that I have closed with a silly smile and contented sigh at the end.

This has definitely been placed at the top as my favorite Renee Carlino novel. I can’t thank you enough for this wonderful story.


2 thoughts on “Review: Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

  1. lostinabookblog says:

    This book. This book right here is the kind of book I want to read over and over again. I loved every single thing about it. The characters are just so beautiful, so intense, their relationship was son unbelievably perfect! I just wanted to read and read and get to know them better. It was definitely one of my favorite read of 2015.

    • karlaamae says:

      I couldn’t agree more. This is really the type of book that you would want to read over and over again and will not get tired of the story instead you’ll love it more. ♥

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