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Before We Were Strangers

By Renée Carlino
Before We Were Strangers by Renée Carlino digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

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?


2409 Reviews

Smiling Face with Heart-Eyes“I could not put this book down. It’s a real love, wrong time, second chance story for Grace and Matt. This book gave me butterflies as it reminded me of excitement of young, energetic love. It was also heartbreaking to see their love lost in translation of growing up and following their personal pursuits. Life pulls them apart and their life choices continue to work against rekindling. The writing was fantastic as the author, Renee Carlino, wrote beautifully about the feeling of love and falling in love between the MFC and MMC as well as New York. Her depiction of the setting in New York is poetic and it made me feel like I could love New York; it made me feel like I could clearly envision the life and allure of the city. This book was a journey of emotions and I was here for it. It gave me all of the emotions and that’s what 5 star ratings are for me.”
Smiling Face with Heart-Eyes
Characters change and growEasy to read
“Loved the first half.. The second half was too good to be true One thing i loved about this book is the female protagonist.. Grace was❤ Didn't like Matt much.. But i like books where i don't like the male protagonist. Also I looooved how he blamed not being there for his daughter on Grace. ‘Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.’ ” He buried his face in my hair. “My life is burning well.” Yes, but for how long? If I asked, would you stay? to ask him to stay, but how could I be so selfish? If I asked him, would he love me less, if he even loved me at all? I wanted to ask him how old she was and if she was pretty. “I’m so happy for you, Matt.” It was the first time I really thought about how fleeting it all is. Was this life? I wondered. You can spend hours upon hours engaged in meaningless, arbitrary bullshit, and then die while taking a dip in the river, your bloated body washing up onshore like discarded trash, only to be buried and forgotten? Oh, fuck, we’re all gonna die, nobody knows when, nobody knows how, you think. And in that moment, you realize how little control you have over your own destiny. From the time you’re born, you have no control; you can’t choose your parents, and, unless you’re suicidal, you can’t choose your death. The only thing you can do is choose the person you love, be kind to others, and make your brutally short stint on earth as pleasant as possible. you’d do anything for him. And then, like a mythological creature, he would annihilate your heart with mere indifference. You chase it like the first high for the rest of your life. It doesn’t mean you can’t love another or move on; it just means that the one spontaneous moment, the split second that you took the leap, when your heart was racing and your mind was muddled with What ifs?—that moment—will never happen the same way again. It will never feel as intense as the first time. At least, that’s the way I remember it. That’s why my mother always said we memorialize our past. Everything seems better in a memory. Slipping into his embrace was the most natural thing. Maybe it was because of all of the months we’d been studying each other, waiting for this moment. Or maybe it was because he had done this before. “Bye.” He hung up. It’s not good-bye. It’s not good-bye. Never say good-bye. Staring at my bare feet, I thought about how he didn’t ask me what I was up to. I never even got a chance to tell him about the band gigs. ... 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. I had been closed off for a long time, and I hadn’t allowed myself to imagine the future because I was still stuck in the past. But Orvin once told me that time is the currency of life. And I had lost so much of it. It was that idea of lost time that finally made me realize I needed to move on, He had ruined me for all other men I felt like one of those lonely people they talk about in the song. I thought, if I ever saw him again, he’d look right through me, like I was a ghost from his past. That’s how he made me feel that summer after college: someone who no longer existed.”
Beaming Face with Smiling Eyes
Characters change and growLikable charactersBeautifully writtenEasy to readHeartbreakingRomantic

About Renée Carlino

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and the bestselling author of Sweet Thing, Nowhere But Here, After the Rain, Before We Were Strangers, Swear on This Life, and Wish You Were Here. She grew up in Southern California and lives in the San Diego area with her husband and two sons. To learn more, visit ReneeCarlino.com.

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