Review: Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

Genres: Women's Fiction

Release Date: June 26, 2018

Format: eARC

Source: St. Martin's Press and NetGalley

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.

Barbara Delinsky is a mainstay in women’s fiction and with good reason. Tackling complex issues while exploring family dynamics and relationships, Delinsky can weave a story that captures the mind as well as the heart. Before and Again is no exception.

Maggie’s life changed in an instant. After losing all that she loved most in a horrible accident, she has rebuilt a quiet existence in another town. She craves anonymity and has shared her past with no one, save for one trusted friend. When supporting a friend in need means being thrust back into the spotlight, and the risk of her past becoming known is all too real, Maggie must decide what she is willing to risk in order to do what she knows is right.

Who was I? I wasn’t a mother or a wife, and I was a daughter in name only. But I was a friend. Being a friend sometimes meant you left your own comfort zone for the sake of someone else. I wanted to be the kind of person who did that.

Maggie was a character that was still mired in grief and guilt. Outwardly, she gave the impression of having moved on, but in reality she was still stuck in a spiral of self-blame and recrimination. When her friend’s son is accused of hacking into the Twitter account of a high profile journalist, the national media descends. Maggie is terrified of being recognized and having her own past brought into the spotlight but she also cannot turn her back on her friend. At the same time, a face from Maggie’s past has reappeared and she’s reeling from the implications.

There were a lot of threads running through Maggie’s story: her job and her pottery, the scandal with her friend’s son, her estrangement from her family, her ex-husband, and Maggie’s overwhelming heartache. While at times the pacing did seem to lag, I was still invested in Maggie’s story. And despite the hacking scandal, which often seemed to take a backseat, the story felt more character-driven than the synopsis suggests. Along with its commentary on the role of the media (about which Delinsky seemingly has nothing but disdain), Before and Again also tackles issues of friendship, forgiveness, loss and second chances. Sometimes a bit slow, but ultimately a hopeful story of overcoming tragedy and finding happiness again.

3.5/5 STARS


Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is no way changes my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

14 comments

  1. I've never read anything by this author, but I'm glad to see you mostly enjoyed this one. Seems like an emotional read. :)

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was at times - but a very interesting story.

      Delete
  2. Oh wow! This one sounds like a difficult read!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, this sounds like it would be an incredibly intense and emotional read. I'm glad you enjoyed it despite the pacing issue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was. Maggie was still so bogged down in grief and punishing herself.

      Delete
  4. I am happy to see you enjoyed this one despite the minor issues you had with it. Great review.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think I read this author years and years ago when she wrote for Harlequin. I remember enjoying her books, but I don't remember any specifics. This one does sound really good, even if it lagged a bit. I love a character driven story.

    Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, Delinsky has been writing for ages. Same here, Angie. I"ll always go for characters over plot. :)

      Delete
  6. The book cover is gorgeous! If only the book lived up to it. Great review

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was still an enjoyable read (3.5 stars) but it just didn’t blow me away. :)

      Delete
  7. We seem to agree on this one, Tanya. It was my first read from Delinsky and I was impressed with how she wove all those threads together. You said it was slow at times and that makes me feel a bit better. I was trying to read this while traveling so I thought maybe it was just me. Still, it was a good story and I'll read Delinsky again. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely not just you. Despite the synopsis that sounded pretty fascinating, I did think the pacing was a bit slow at times and that balance between the relationship stuff and the hacking issue felt a little off. But it was still a good read!

      Delete