Ask Again, Yesby Published 28 May 2019
|Ask Again, Yes.pdf|
A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the friendship between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, and the power of forgiveness.
Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are two NYPD rookies assigned to the same Bronx precinct in 1973. They aren’t close friends on the job, but end up living next door to each other outside the city. What goes on behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne, sets the stage for the stunning events to come.
Ask Again, Yes by award-winning author Mary Beth Keane, is a beautifully moving exploration of the friendship and love that blossoms between Francis’s youngest daughter, Kate, and Brian’s son, Peter, who are born six months apart. In the spring of Kate and Peter’s eighth grade year a violent event divides the neighbors, the Stanhopes are forced to move away, and the children are forbidden to have any further contact.
But Kate and Peter find a way back to each other, and their relationship is tested by the echoes from their past. Ask Again, Yes reveals how the events of childhood look different when reexamined from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.
Ask Again, Yes Reviews
heads up to whom it may concern: this book is primo book club bait. in general, the best book club choices are ones with juicy conflicts at their centers which inspire strong, differing, politely expressed opinions from your assembled booknerds. and the best of these have an extra component—they allow the reader a sort of peripheral empathy; taking recognizable, relatable issues like illness, marital/job stress, disputes with the neighbors, etc, and then dramatically inflating them into situations one hopes never to have to live through, providing that “there but for the” shiver.
the publisher's synopsis seems to want to keep its secrets, so i'll play along and summarize in the broadest terms: it’s about two families and one verybad night that changes the course of their lives for decades to come. and the specifics of this dramatically inflated situation, and all of its ripple effects, are sure to inspire some wide-ranging booknerd opinions.
it has all of the things that breed discussion—nuanced characters with complicated relationships given years to develop and adjust, and to confront life’s myriad challenges: infidelity, addiction, mental illness, abandonment, loneliness, regret—all of the meaty woes of life. but it’s also a first love story, with a bit of a romeo and juliet edge, although in this case, the capulet’s disapproval of their kid’s romantic choice is totally legit. awkward thanksgivings for sure.
it’s an engrossing and insightful story of human relationships and growth and forgiveness, but it’s not schmaltzy and sentimental like so many books of its kind. i liked it. maybe your book club will like it.
but don't take my word for it—there’s actually a literary litmus test for IS THIS A BOOK CLUB BOOK?
IS THIS A BOOK CLUB BOOK?
does it look like this?
does it look like this?
does it look like this?
I THINK IT IS A BOOK CLUB BOOK!!!
come to my blog!
Very recently a question came up in a Goodreads group of which I am a member—what is literature? Definitions were bandied about and although there was some consensus, it was still fairly ethereal and ambiguous. An online dictionary, however, offers this:
Literature: written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit.
Ask Again, Yes is most certainly “literature”—a novel that will not only assuredly be splashed across dozens of “Best of 2019” lists, but one that will also be read, explicated and analyzed for years to come. This is the birth of a classic.
The book begins in 1973, as two rookie NYPD officers, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, are partnered. Though it is only a six week stint, their meeting sets the course for the future of not only the two men, but also their families. For the next four decades, their lives intersect and collide as they face friendships lost and found, mental illness, and alcoholism—with eventual self-awareness that can only be achieved through the survival of horrific events and crisis.
Author Mary Beth Keane is on point as not only a skilled storyteller but also a brilliant wordsmith. Her prose is absolutely poetic, ebbing and flowing with phrasing and rich imagery that steals the reader’s breath. It’s not just the language, though, that makes this such a gorgeous book. Through Keane’s writing, each character is given life that lifts them off of the page and into existence. They are tragic and flawed, beautiful and real, each with hopes and dreams that transcend the obstacles with which they are faced. The reader KNOWS them and can’t help but to laugh, cry and cheer as their lives unfold.
Melancholy and even sometimes morose, the familial themes explored by Keane are at once uplifting and painful. At what cost do we cling to our past? How much energy do we expend in the name of vengeance? When does forgiveness become a noble pursuit? What, exactly, constitutes a life well-lived?
Ask Again, Yes is, without question, a must read for those who value family and the ties that bind; for those who expect good writing in exchange for the valuable time spent immersed in the pages; and for those who can appreciate the joy of a story well-told.
Thanks to both NetGalley and Scribner for allowing me access to an ARC in exchange for my review. The book is slated for a June 2019 release.
I have always enjoyed reading family stories that take me on their journey across time. This is a story of two families over several decades and how their lives intersect in a tragic way as well as one that is filled of love and ultimately forgiveness. Two NYC police officers, living next door to each other in the suburbs, connected mainly by the friendship of their two young children. Abruptly the things going on in one of the families impact the other in a way that changes everyone’s life and the two young friends are separated. In less capable hands, this book could have been melodramatic, but it wasn’t. The author addressed some tough, realistic issues - mental illness, alcoholism, parental abandonment and the effects on these characters, who I was vested in throughout, felt for throughout. This could never be a happily ever after story because the things that happened to these characters are burdens that while can be lightened by that love, loyalty and forgiveness, they can never fully be erased. An ending that was satisfying and provided realistic closure. Highly recommended.
This was a monthly buddy read with Diane and Esil.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Scribner through Edelweiss and NetGalley.
4.5 stars rounded up!
Thank you to Scribner and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book and provide an honest review.
Ask Again, Yes was a really great piece of fiction writing. If I could compare it to another author's work I would say this is for fans of Celeste Ng or Ann Patchett. Family sagas are something that I look for because they almost always end up being my favorite stories. I think there is a lot to be said for an author who can build an entire story out of one or two families and weave everything together. Mary Beth Keane wrote this absolutely beautiful story with such care and concern for the journey they all take that anyone who reads it will fall in love with each person's faults as well as their strengths in what is a journey of friendship and love.
You know you are reading something amazing when you can't wait to get back to it. When I wasn't reading it, all I did was think about what was going to come next. Ask Again, Yes is that book. Besides the story, it was the WAY the author told the story. I thought switching perspectives and giving us insight into not only the main characters (Kate & Peter), but the other characters directly impacted by "the event" helped make the story stronger. It provided the opportunity to follow each character through their life and see WHY they were able to feel and act based on where you were in the book. It made the conclusion bittersweet and believable.
With that said, I do have one slight concern, which is why I downgraded it slightly. [spoilers removed] With that being said, I still play to buy this book when it is published (June 2019) and make it part of my permanent library. Anyone looking for their next great book club pick; this is it!
Oh my... this book...these characters.
I loved this story. The story starts out in the 1970’s, with two young New York police officers (partners, for awhile) who end up living next door to each other in a suburban neighborhood.
As their family’s are growing, a tragedy occurs that changes all their lives, and keeps them entwined forever.
Mental illness, alcoholism, estrangements, and most of all love and forgiveness are at the center of this novel that takes the reader with them to present day.
This novel touched my heart!
Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for this ARC!