Thursday, July 19, 2018

New(er) Release Review ~ Before and Again ~ Barbara Delinsky #2018NewRelease

Before and AgainBefore and Again by Barbara Delinsky
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

Source: I received an eARC from St. Martin's via Netgalley. This did not affect my rating and my review is provided voluntarily.
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #2018NewRelease

Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment but the resulting collision was enough to rob her not only of her beloved daughter but ultimately of her marriage, family, and friends - and thanks to the nonstop media coverage, even her privacy. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog. She's thankful for the new friends she's made - though she can't risk telling them too much. ANd she takes satisfaction in working as a makeup artist at the luxurious local spa, helping clients hide the visible outward signs of their weariness, illnesses, and injuries. Covering up scars is a skill she has mastered.

Her only goal is to stay under the radar and make it through her remaining probation. But she isn't the only one in this peaceful town with secrets. When a friend's teenage son is thrust into the national spotlight, accused of hacking a powerful man's Twitter account, Maggie is torn between pulling away and protecting herself - or stepping into the glare to be at their side. As the stunning truth behind their case is slowly revealed, Maggie's own carefully constructed story begins to unravel as well. She knows all too well that what we need from each other in this difficult world is comfort. But to provide it, sometimes we need to travel far outside our comfort zones.

I knew here name but I'd never read BDelinsky before. The synopsis of Before and Again intrigued me though so I requested it. I'm so happy I did. Delinsky delivered a character-driven, captivating story dealing with love, loss, guilt, forgiveness, and what it means to be a true friend.

  • Characters
    Maggie (Mackenzie) is the central character and she was a woman I wanted to wrap up in a big, warm hug. She's endured so much and has built a new life in a small, quiet town, and made new friends. She's on a journey of self-discovery of sorts and she's forced to learn a lot about herself when her past shows up in her present, along with helping a new friend face a challenge. The supporting cast was also well-developed where it needed to be - especially Maggie's friends and Edward. I admired how Delinsky created a close-knit community where, for the most part, people rallied around their own even if "their own" weren't life-long residents. That's something I really enjoy about small town settings.
  • Plot
    Delinsky deftly wove together plot threads from past and present as Maggie put together the puzzle of her life. I appreciated how Maggie's past was dealt with and how the present, particularly helping Grace deal with her problem - something Maggie wished she'd had friends do for her - tied those threads together with the present enabling Maggie to see a real future for the first time in a long while.
  • Message (for lack of a better term)
    Before and Again deals with some weighty topics but does so adroitly. I liked what Maggie's story seemed to say aobut how our pasts shape us, are a part of us but don't define us. I liked the element of forgiveness - of others but especially ourselves. I also liked the ways in which Maggie learned about love - familial and romantic - and friendship - what it means to be a good daughter, wife, and friend.

I'm delighted with my introduction to Delinsky and will definitely be reading more from her.

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