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Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

"The present is our own. The right-this-second, the here-and-now, this moment before the next, is ours for the taking. It’s the only free gift the universe has to offer. The past doesn’t belong to us anymore, and the future is just a fantasy, never guaranteed. But the present is ours to own. The only way we can realize that fantasy is if we embrace the now"

This is definitely by far one of the best romance stories I have ever read in my short existence. It has love, it has mystery, it has fluffiness, and it breaks your heart in two. This book had it all. The tears, the smiles and the anger.

To the Green-eyed Lovebird: We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House. You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more. We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other. Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding… I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello. After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half? M

I had to include the Craigslist missed connection ad because it was what actually got me started on reading it. What a story.

Before We Were Strangers tells us the past and the present of two lovers who because of destiny got separated and because of destiny got thrown back together again. It perfectly narrates both of their stories both as college kids falling deeply in love, then as adults as they were separated after knowing they had found the one.

Grace and Matt met when they were in college and they fell in love and started a beautiful romance. Shortly after their short relationship summer comes and Matt takes his dream job of taking pictures of National Geographic, leaving Grace to wait for him. She does wait for him until she starts to become more and more concerned after the lack of replies she gets from his until then one day she receives a magazine article with his face with an apparent new lover. Grace decides to take a trip to Europe with his music professor. The summer they faded away and it wasn't until years later on a subway that they find each other again. However, they both married and lived lives of their own is it too late for these meant to be lover to rekindle all that they left behind?

This book blew my mind and broke my heart. I sobbed for hours, even after I had finished the story. I cried for Grace and her believing Matt didn't want her. I cried for Matt and the child he never knew he had. I laughed when they finally got together again and I cried tears of joy when the child they had together finally called Matt, Dad. It is an incredible story filled with too much raw emotion.

--- 5 stars ---