A secret that she can't let go of... Between Before and After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry (Review)

I'm a huge fan of this publisher and have generally liked just about every book they release.
This newest from them is set slightly in the past and asked some interesting questions...

Between Before & After
By Maureen Doyle McQuerry
YA Historical, Split-Time
Hardcover, Audiobook & ebook, 304 Pages
February 5th 2019 by Blink


“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.

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My Review

BETWEEN BEFORE AND AFTER is a Time-Slip story set during a difficult time in history where a daughter faces some tough realities of life, and then at another time in history when life is a little simpler but where there are still prejudices and another daughter also faces her own difficulties. It reads more like a Women's Fiction story, and almost like reading a journal account of the prior time as the reader gets flashes and snippets of what happened in the past as the other storyline takes place. Those who love historical novels and memoirs, heavy on the hardships and historical aspects, may enjoy this one.

The writing was very well done. I didn't have any issues following along or get confused about which time period I was in. The characters were also quite complex. There were some interesting lessons or questions that the story brought forward and I appreciated that the author didn't really tell the reader what to think, but presented them in a way that it just makes you think.

I'll just honestly say that this was one of those stories that jarred me. I was expecting something completely different than what I got and it was hard to reconcile my expectations and the actual story. I also didn't particularly love any of the characters or even relate to them, although I did relate to some of the situations and one of the time periods. It's hard to read something like this that isn't necessarily pleasant to read in the first place, it be something you weren't expecting, and then not really like the characters. I also love Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities and was expecting to really love this, but I just didn't see as many connections... or maybe it just lacked the sweet moments and characters I loved that Dickens brought to his story.

In the end, was it what I wished for? If you love Women's Fiction, Memoirs or YA Historicals that are just telling the story of a woman and her daughter, then give this a try. It just wasn't for me.

Content: Some references to abuse and pre-marital relations.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through JustReadTours, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.

Is this on your list to read? Did you already read it? Any thoughts on the book or my review?

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