Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

**4/5 stars**

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

Here I am trying to come up with the perfect words to sum up how I feel about what I just read, but I’m utterly speechless. It was such a unique, frustrating, fun, and heartbreaking love story. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it. It made me seriously think about life and how just a small miscommunication can make a huge difference, and in the case of Matt and Grace, it unfortunately cost them 15 years of their lives apart.

The story follows a thirty-six year old man named Matt who has no motivation in life to move forward. His ex-wife, her new husband, and him all work in the same place, which can get awkward, and he has no one to go home to at the end of the day. That all changes when he sees Grace again at the subway station. It’s a second too late, the train’s doors already close, but they make eye contact and recognized each other immediately. This persuades Matt to write a missed connections ad on Craigslist in hopes that Grace will find it. The story goes back 15 years to when Matt and Grace meet in their college dorm building and how they become fast friends. They’re both unique and weird; she’s a cellist he’s a photographer. Their relationship develops slowly and they become inseparable. Unfortunately, life gets in the way, and they become victims of bad timing.  

They cared about each other so much and didn’t give a damn about what other people thought of their relationship. The use of their talents really drove the story forward. Matt couldn’t stop taking photos of Grace, no matter if she was dancing, playing the cello, etc, etc. Grace practiced her cello non-stop. Their song tastes were nothing I’ve heard of before, but I somehow understood their passion and connection through the music in their relationship. (I may have just listened to some Jeff Buckley songs and now I have a lot of feels.)

I loved the New York atmosphere, I thought it was really fitting. The flashback took place in the 90’s, so it was cool to read about how their lives were different because of the lack of technology. The reason I gave it a 4 stars was because in the first quarter of the book I didn’t feel really connected to Matt and Grace. I didn’t desperately want to know how their story continued. BUT once I got past the middle, it really picked up for me and I fell in love. This book shattered my heart so many times but still managed to mend it back together, again and again. I would love to see this book adapted into a film! (can someone please make this happen.)


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