Review: Before We Were Strangers by Renée Carlino

BeforeWeWereStrangersBefore We Were Strangers
Renée Carlino
Atria Books, 2015


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?



I tried to pitch this book to my book club and while I was telling them the synopsis, I could tell from their reactions that it wasn’t going to be picked up. There’s something about it that turns people off- like why would you want to read about someone trying to find another person through Craigslist? Except that the story is so much more than that. It’s about a young and passionate love between two people who get separated and about finding out their obstacles many years later.

To put it simply, I simply loved it. I’ve never read Renée Carlino’s work before this and now I’m so curious about her other books. I thought that the narrative was captivating and the characters felt so real and compelling. All the secrets and mysteries get exposed and throughout the entire time, I was just rooting for our two main characters.

The best compliment I can give a book is this – it’s now on my wishlist. I loved it so much that I want a hard copy of the book as part of my library at home. I’m super excited about her newest book Swear on This Life and hopefully get a copy of it to read soon.


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