|(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)|
“The carnage began with the roses. She hacked at their ruffled blooms until they dropped into monstrous drifts of red on the parched yellow lawn … Only two things kept my mother grounded to us: my uncle Stephen and stories.”
Fourteen-year-old Molly worries about school, friends, and her parents’ failed marriage, but mostly about her mother’s growing depression. Molly knows her mother is nursing a carefully-kept secret. A writer with an obsession for other people’s life stories, Elaine Donnelly is the poster child of repressed emotions.
Molly spends her California summer alternately watching out for her little brother Angus and tip-toeing around her mother’s raw feelings. Molly needs her mother more than ever, but Elaine shuts herself off from real human connections and buries herself in the lives and deaths of the strangers she writes about. When Uncle Stephen is pressed into the limelight because of his miracle cure of a young man, Elaine can no longer hide behind other people’s stories. And as Molly digs into her mother’s past, she finds a secret hidden in her mother’s dresser that may be the key to unlocking a family mystery dating to 1918 New York—a secret that could destroy or save their future.
Told in dual narratives between 1918 New York City and 1955 San Jose, California, Between Before and After, by award-winning author Maureen McQuerry, explores the nature of family secrets, resiliency, and redemption. This is an historical coming-of-age Young Adult story about the complex bonds between mothers and daughters.
YA historical fiction with a tinge of mystery - seriously!? How could I not want to read this book?! And let me just say, I'm so glad that I did. Between Before & After was amazing. I LOVED it!!
First off, dual narratives are my jam. I love books that provide us with different perspectives in such a clear cut manner, because we get two stories in one. How cool is that? Plus, these two stories are set in different time periods, which makes for a bit of history and who doesn't love learning about the past. Am I right? Also, the two narrators are a mother and daughter. Yep, a mother-daughter book! Now, that is most definitely right up my alley. I wrote my thesis on the mother-daughter relationship in literature (specifically Chicano Literature, but hey its all relative to some degree, right?). Anyhow, once I knew the book was about mother-daughters, I was so excited about reading it.
This is the story of Elaine and her daughter, Molly. Elaine's life in 1918 NYC was fraught with loss. The Great Flu hit and no one was safe - especially Elaine's family. Losing everyone dear to her makes her prioritize her remaining family - little brother Stephen. Mind you, Elaine is a teenager, so having to deal with an absent father and a little brother is A LOT to handle. Yet, she does it. As for Molly, its 1955 in San Jose - she's fourteen and dealing with the dissolution of her parent's marriage, school, friends, and her mother's depression. Yep, Elaine is depressed and Molly is determined to find out the secret behind it all; along with keeping tabs on her own little brother, Angus. Oh, and did I mention Stephen, Elaine's brother? We get to learn about how this brother-sister managed to grow up with family secrets and a shared history. The more we learn from Elaine and Molly, the more intrigued we become with this family.
I absolutely LOVED getting to know these characters and their struggles - Elaine was my favorite! I really enjoyed getting to find out about her past and the secrets she kept. This book was just so gripping. I found that I couldn't stop reading it until I got to the very end - so, it turned into an all-nighter for me and I loved every minute of it.
I would definitely recommend Between Before & After to fans of Maureen Doyle McQuerry and anyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE this book!!
Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Between Before & After