Thanks to the publisher for sending me a free copy of the book.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
“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.
This was an interesting book. It delved into some pretty deep topics, which were heavier than I expected. I was really captivated by the endurance of these characters, and found myself fully immersed in the world Doyle McQuerry has created.
One of my favorite aspects of the book was its dual timeline narrative. I recently had a conversation with a fellow booknerd about how much I appreciate the buildup that comes with this type of storytelling. It’s like getting two stories in one. I love that it creates a bit of mystery and suspense – you know the two storylines are going to converge or cross paths, but you don’t quite know how they’re going to get there.
However, my absolute favorite part of this book were the two main characters, Elaine and Molly. These two gals both found themselves in similar situations involving having to raise/look out for their younger brothers, while they were both still children themselves. But what I loved about that was their perseverance. They were such strong youngsters with a fierce sense of survival. And they were also just strong female characters in general.
“. . . But let me give you some advice. Let all of this go. Guys don’t like girls who are different, girls who overthink things.”
“Then I guess that saves me from worrying about what to wear to prom. . . I’m not going to stop thinking because it makes some guy uncomfortable. I’ll ask whatever questions I want!”
I’d definitely recommend Between Before & After to anyone looking for a historical YA read that’ll pull you in and make you think. It’s not all sunshine and roses, but it’s strong characters, perseverance, and family bonds.
Book stats: Hardcover, 304 pages, Blink, February 5, 2019