Title: Before We Were Strangers
Author: Renee Carlino
Daniela’s Rating: 5+ stars
**ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**
“Friends forever might have been a tired expression, but when he asked, it was like music or poetry. I knew it meant something else. I knew it meant I need you in my life.”
Oh wow, this book. THIS BOOK. I can’t tell you how much I love it because I don’t think I have enough time and words never do something so beautiful justice. You know those books you read because you love the author? Because you know it’s going to be amazing just by reading the blurb? This was just like that for me at first and got even better with every page. I’ve loved Renee’s books since I read Sweet Thing. I’ve loved every one of her books after that, but Before We Were Strangers took it to a whole new level. This is the kind of book you fall head over heels for, the kind that puts a smile on your face the moment you wake up until you go to sleep again.
I’ll recommend it to everyone and anyone who’s up for a wonderful and emotional ride, because it sure was that. I fell in love with this book from page one and I keep falling in love with it even after I finished it. It’s that kind of book. Renee has a way with words that make you lose yourself for a while and believe you’re part of the story. All of her book are full of sweetness, and love, and heartache, and beauty. The story is set in two different times, and the transition is just so perfect. From present to past to present again, I was caught into two lives that warmed my heart. One was full of excitement and joy and love. The other one was full of what-ifs that wouldn’t stop hunting the characters, but one thing that was present in both times was love.
Now, let me tell you a little about the story, Before We Were Strangers introduces us to Matt Shore and Grace Starr. They’re young, and free, and wild. They’re both studying their way in life in New York. One has a passion for photography, the other one for music. They’re relationship is easy and happy and wonderful. What started as a fast friendship, turned into a fast, and deep, and passionate, and meaningful love. Until one day, there was nothing in her room. Not a note, not her things, nothing. Life stopped burning well. Life goes on, but it’s not the same, until one day in the subway, for one split second, life throws them another chance.
The characters in this book are so, so, so perfect. I just don’t have another word to describe them. Each has their own personality but they complement each other so well. One is the other half of the other. Matt’s way of thinking is very thoughtful and he cares with passion. He’s the friend and lover and confidant you need in your life. He’s the kind of guy who’d do anything for you. He’s the realistic of the two, but even so, he lives his life with an open mind and heart. He let’s himself believe in the impossible and do the things he wants to do. He lives his life freely. He’s his own man. And you know what? I loved every single thing about him. I loved his sweet side, his tough side and most of all, his warm heart.
“This is the right time, I promiseM this is our time. You’re the love of my life. I fucking love you, Grace. I’ve always loved you. I loved you when I wasn’t with you, and before that, and right now.”
Then we have Grace. She’s the personification of freedom, even when she’s not completely free of her past and her family. Her attachment to them costs her more than it should, but she does it even when there’s no “thank you” from them. She does it because she loves them, despite their mistakes. But that doesn’t make her naive. That makes her real and beautiful. Who wouldn’t do anything for their family? And still, she manages to enjoy her life. She does what she loves and she does it with passion. She gives herself completely into what she believes is right for her. She’s resourceful and will find a way to help those who need her. Always. She lives her life.
I have to say, I wrote this review just a couple of days after I finished the book, and I still can’t get them out of my head. When I was barely 15% into the book, I was a complete goner. When I reached 50% I was immerse in Matt’s and Grace’s relationship and I never wanted out. At 70% I wanted to stop just to make sure the book never ended, because I really didn’t want it to end. *sigh* It’s the kind of book you wished you could read again for the first time a billion times, you know? I guess I’ll be rereading this a bunch of times, because I sure will miss Matt and his Green-eyed Lovebird.