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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Before We Were Strangers

ISBN: 9781501105777

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication Date: 8/18/2015

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars

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

About the Author

Hi. Thanks for visiting my website. I’m Renée Carlino, author of Sweet Thing, Sweet Little Thing, Nowhere But Here, After the Rain and upcoming BEFORE WE WERE STRANGERS (08/2015). I’m a California native currently residing in a beach town in Southern California where I live with my husband, our two boys, and our sweet dog, June. Even though I’ve lived in the small towns of Southern California my whole life, I’ve had a long-standing affair with the big city. New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles are some of my favorite places. I like to place my characters in different settings where I can use the unique qualities of the location to help tell the story.

I started writing creatively as a teenager, first with poetry and short stories, and then finally to the long prose as an adult. I’m obsessed with love stories and the drama and complexities that exist within our intimate relationships. In 2002’ I received a film degree and thought I would see the stories in my head play out on film but something always brought me back to the written word. My time as a seventh grade English teacher helped to reacquaint me with my love of reading and writing and soon I was devoting much of my free time to it.

Music also plays a huge role in my life. I’ve often referred to music as my lifeblood so that’s why I’ve included an on-going, ever-changing playlist on my website to share some of the songs that have inspired and evoked emotion in me, especially in my writing. Whether I’m writing about musicians or cowboys, I’m always listening to music, so I love getting new recommendations.

I’ve said before that my first friends were the imaginary kind and in many ways they still are. I love writing these stories and watching my characters grow and I’m grateful to be able to share them with you. I also really love hearing from readers so please drop by my Facebook page or twitter and say hello. Website Twitter Goodreads

My Review

A special thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Talented Rene Carlino delivers a breathtaking contemporary love story BEFORE WE WERE STRANGERS, one of missed connections, and years later, a second chance---from time, distance, life, and life. Can these two find their way back? A moving story of love that spans fifteen years of separation. “Life goes not backward, nor tarries with yesterday--Khalil Gibran Matt and Grace met at NYU over fifteen years earlier. They start out as friends and their newfound relationship falls into love. Barely making it with little money, they found their happiness with small little things, being carefree and spontaneous. However, when they finish school, Matt, a photographer receives an opportunity with National Geographic, taking him away from Grace. Grace has majored in music, she also has an opportunity travel with an orchestra for a year and a half. As most couples, they think they can make it work and stay together long distance. They lost touch in the summer Matt went to South America. When he came back, she was gone; to travel and see the world. "Time passes, life goes on, places change, people change.” Matt cannot get Grace off his mind after seeing her on the subway one day. A Wednesday, waiting for the F train. He did not know it was Grace until it was too late, and she was gone. He knows she said his name, he saw it on her lips. He tried to stop the train; so he could reach out. Five weeks after seeing her, in a quick glance on the subway, he found himself looking for Grace, going to their old haunts in the east Village and even hung around the NYU dorm rooms where they had lived. What was her life, like now? With all the technology, web, and social media out today he decided to pull up a Craigslist on his computer. Something called “missed connections.” You can post about an experience and hope they find it. You write where it happened, and what you were wearing, so the other person knows it’s you. He does so and leaves his phone number. Flashing back and forth from today to fifteen years ago, we learn about when Grace and Matt met. We hear from both, and how each changed one another. The, what ifs? Does everything seem better in a memory? The past does not belong to them anymore and the future is just a fantasy, never guaranteed. But the present is theirs, to own. They have to embrace it. They have to re-create what they once had. They met at the wrong time. The Green-eyed Lovebird. Grace’s student tells her about a post on Criagslist. She knows it has to be Matt, meant for her. Matt is now working for a magazine and Grace teaching high school music classes in the same city, living close to one another. However, there are complications, secrets, betrayal and shocking news. Can they forgive one another and find their way back? A beautifully written, poignant love story with well-developed characters drawing you into a world of young love, lost love, reconnected and adult love—with all the flaws, loss, heartbreak, insecurity, passion, jealously, fears, and emotions. In the theme of Jennifer Weiner’s, Who Do You Love, second chances for love lost. Chick-lit and romance fans will be glued to the pages of talented Carlino’s contemporary look at love from both sides. Sometimes you can go back and possibly it may just be sweeter, the second time around, if you are lucky enough. A “love, interrupted” story inspired by a real Craigslist missed connections post about a guy who sees the “girl who got away” on an NYC subway after fifteen years.

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