Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date of publication: June 26th, 2018
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Trigger Warning: Traumatic loss of a child
Where you can find Before and Again: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
Book synopsis (from Goodreads):
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 did something that I keep swearing that I’ll stop doing. I judged the Before and Again by its blurb. I figured it would be one of those chick lit books where the heroine was insufferable. Guess what. It isn’t. Instead, this is a beautifully written book about accepting loss and second chances. I will warn everyone, you will need Kleenex. You will cry. Not a “maybe” you will cry but a definite yes you will cry.
I felt bad for Mackenzie/Maggie. In a short amount of time, she lost everything. She decided to start over in Vermont because of the media frenzy that surrounded her court case. She fought hard for every bit of peace and quiet. When her ex-husband showed up as the new owner of the spa that she worked in, she could see her hard-won peace of mind slipping. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to handle it if my ex showed up. I would have lost it. I don’t blame her for acting the way she did. She was dealing with a lot.
What got me the most with this book was the amount of pain and guilt that Maggie had. My heart broke every time she thought about Lily. When Edward showed up in her town, it brought back all those memories that she tried to suppress came back…good and bad. Everything that she didn’t get a chance to resolve started bubbling up. My heart broke during those scenes between Edward and Maggie. So much was left unsaid 5 years before. So much that it drove them apart.
I will be honest, I didn’t like Grace at all. She was self-absorbed. I thought her friendship with Maggie was one-sided for most of the book. Maggie tried to be there for her and kept getting pushed away. Even when Maggie was instrumental in finding out Grace’s big secret and getting her help, she was still ungrateful. She kept pushing her away. Made me think that she was an ungrateful idiot. Plus, her reaction when Chris was first brought in for questioning grated on me too. More concerned about what people would think about her than the trouble her teenager was in.
The storyline with Maggie’s mother was another one that had me ugly crying during it. The regret that her mother had been almost tangible. I felt bad that it took 5 years and a broken hip for the reconciliation to happen.
The end of the book was what I expected. Everyone’s storyline got wrapped up. Some I was happy with and some I was not. I did think that Grace’s big secret should have been revealed earlier in the book. I felt that it was kind of a letdown when she finally told what it was. I also didn’t like how Maggie’s brother showed up out of nowhere after no contact for 5 years. And acted like everything was OK. Everything was not OK.
What I liked about Before and Again:
A) Well written characters
B) The storylines. Fantastic
C) Great world building
What I disliked about Before and Again:
A) How much this book made me cry
B) Grace. Couldn’t stand her
C) Maggie’s brother showing up out of the blue
I would give Before and Again an Adult rating. There is sex. There is violence. There is language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.
There are trigger warnings in Before and Again. They would be a traumatic loss of a child.
I would reread Before and Again. I would also recommend this book to family and friends
I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Before and Again.
All opinions stated in this review of Before and Again are mine
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**