From the first page until the final page, this book owned my heart. I knew it was going to be a special book from the moment I read the synopsis. I wasn’t wrong. Filled with nostalgia, true love, first times, and heartbreaking moments, Before We Were Strangers captivated me and left me consumed with Grace and Matt’s epic love story long after I finished the last word.
Matt is a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who works for National Geographic. He lives in one of the most exciting cities in the world, New York City, but his life seems anything but exciting. He is thirty six years old, divorced, and his life seems to be stagnating. When he spots his old flame from fifteen years ago on the subway, he is pulled right back into all of the feelings that he felt all those years ago. He wants to see her, talk to her, and reconnect with her again.
When he places an ad in the ‘Missed Connections’ section of Craigslist, he realizes that it’s a long shot, but he is willing to try anything just to hear from her. When she actually calls him, the memories and feelings come flooding back – not that they ever really left. Fifteen years is a long time, a lot has happened to them over the years, and their lives have changed. Both Grace and Matt have unanswered questions about what happened between them fifteen years ago, but to get the answers, Renée Carlino takes the reader on the journey with them right back to the beginning – and oh, what a journey it is.
I loved the relationship that developed between Matt and Grace right from their first meeting as neighbors in their residence dormitory. They just had that easy friendship, they “got” each other. What started out as a mere friendship between two artistically inclined students, grew into an intense, passionate love. Despite the fact that they were young, they just fit together perfectly. They had that quirky youthfulness, the zest for life, all the while, living the poor lifestyle of students. They became inseparable. As a reader, I could feel the connection that they had, the pull, the love.
Their lives were full of potential, creative opportunities, and love. Matt was fortunate to have earned an internship with National Geographic that would have him working in South America for the summer after graduation. Grace stayed behind with the plans of earning her graduate degree in the fall. But their lives took a turn, misunderstandings happened, and ultimately, their lives moved on without the other.
Before We Were Strangers is a beautiful story that is exquisitely written. I felt every emotion right along with the characters. It was impossible not to like Grace and Matt, to root for them, to want the best for them, and to want them to find their way back to each other. I was pulled into their story and lived it right along with them every step of the way – that is the sign of fantastic writing!
This is by far, one of the best books that I have ever read. There is just something so special about Matt and Grace’s story that just hit all of the marks for me. It’s a unique, refreshing, emotional, epic love story that just makes me so incredibly happy to be a reader.