Blanche’s Book Club: ‘Before We Were Strangers’.

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you’ve found a nice way to celebrate the holiday if you’re still in self-isolation. My mom lives approximately 15 hours away, so we usually do not spend this day together… and my county in Austin has extended its shelter-in-place order until June 15, so I’m going to be here awhile.

I’ll speak more on that in a new installment of “The Quarantine Diaries” — coming Tuesday — but, no matter how long we’re stuck in the Q, I am comforted by the fact that there’s a packed bookshelf right in my living room.

The latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “Before We Were Strangers” by Renee Carlino. Here’s the scoop:

So official.

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a love story about a Craigslist “missed connection” post that gives two people a second chance at love fifteen years after they were separated in New York City.

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?


This was a recent choice from “The Readheads Bookclub” podcast, which is why I added it to my list. I’ll admit that initially I was a little turned off by the fact that one of the main characters had the same name as an ex of mine… but I got over it.

I liked this story, for the most part. It begins in present day and switches to 15 years prior a few chapters in. The characters are then in college, and I think a lot of readers will likely be able to relate to this whirlwind college romance that likely wasn’t logical or healthy. Just me? Ok. 🙂

At about 75 percent of the way into the book, we’re back in present day with a bit of a rushed ending, but it was still okay.

I gave this book three stars on Goodreads — it was an easy read and relatable on some levels, but a bit gritty. I have come to the conclusion that I am all for gritty non-fiction, but I think with fiction… I want to be swept away in some glamour.

The next read Blanche’s Book Club has chosen is “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake” by Amy E. Reichert.

For more book recommendations, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Goodreads @thebitterlemon – where I share more of my book picks. Need help with your blog? I can help with all of your digital marketing efforts – just let me know!

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