Thursday, January 24, 2019

Before and Again

Title:  Before and Again
Author:  Barbara Delinsky
Publication Information:  St. Martin's Press. 2018. 416 pages.
ISBN:  1250119499 / 978-1250119490

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Mackenzie Cooper had no idea where she was or, more critically, why she hadn't already arrived."

Favorite Quote:  "They say a mother's love is unconditional ... but which is more abiding - a mother's love or a child's need for it?"

Mackenzie Cooper's, aka Maggie Reid's, daughter died in a car accident. They said Mackenzie was responsible. A moment of distraction had life altering effects. Two people died. A law about distracted driving became synonymous with the name Mackenzie Cooper. A marriage ended. A free woman became regimented to the life of someone on parole. Mackenzie became Maggie. Maggie ran.

Maggie moved to a small town in Vermont. Maggie tried to live by a new precept. "The more I let the present unfold, the more the past would find its place." However, Mackenzie came along to where ever Maggie was. The memories and the guilt could not be altered. Changing everything somehow changed nothing.

Maggie has compartmentalized her life into the "before" and the "after." The "again" comes when circumstances and a friend force Maggie into the limelight again and force her to face her demons once again. "Tragedies happen. How we handle them is a test of character." This is the story of what Maggie does.

This book poses some powerful questions about one of the most devastating losses a person can experience. For Maggie, two questions define her life. How do you go on after the death of your child? How do you go on when you were responsible for that death? For Maggie's friend, the question is different. What would you or would you not do to protect a child? Maggie now is torn between protecting herself and being there for her friend. Which will she choose?

The consequences and emotions for both are heartbreaking to contemplate. Oddly though, for what should be a serious and thoughtful and emotional story, the book reads very lightly and very quickly. It would be a summer beach read except for the topic. This book also covers a lot of ground. It is the story that the description alludes to. It is also about a crime. It is also about small town life. It is also about another parent, another child, and another back story. Scattered throughout are descriptions of Maggie's work as a makeup artist with the appearance of making a philosophical point. Finally, the book is also a little bit of a romance. Ultimately, it all comes together almost too easily into too neat of a package. The ending is predictable from the beginning, and the book brings no real surprises or depth.

"Life was. A tapestry. Needlework had never been my medium, but the metaphor fit. Life was a bundle of loose threads, really just a flimsy canvas until a few, strong, basic cords were woven in." The statement describes life, but is also an apt metaphor for the book itself. For me, Maggie should be the "cord" that binds this story together. Unfortunately, the character just does not develop as a strong enough anchor to carry me through the entire story.

The descriptions of Barbara Delinsky's books always hold such promise. This one proved to be a quick read but did not live up to the promise of the emotional premise.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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