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Ask Again, Yes

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How much can a family forgive? A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness. Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens How much can a family forgive? A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness. Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens 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 explosive events to come. Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.


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How much can a family forgive? A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness. Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens How much can a family forgive? A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness. Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens 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 explosive events to come. Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

30 review for Ask Again, Yes

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    “The thing is, Peter, grown-ups don’t know what they’re doing any better than kids do. That’s the truth.” Oh, I love a good family drama. Ask Again, Yes is a book about the members of two families-- the Gleesons and the Stanhopes. They are first brought together through the New York City police academy when young rookies Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope work together. Later, they become neighbours and start families next to one another. Except any chance of cordiality between them is destroye “The thing is, Peter, grown-ups don’t know what they’re doing any better than kids do. That’s the truth.” Oh, I love a good family drama. Ask Again, Yes is a book about the members of two families-- the Gleesons and the Stanhopes. They are first brought together through the New York City police academy when young rookies Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope work together. Later, they become neighbours and start families next to one another. Except any chance of cordiality between them is destroyed on one fateful night. This is one of those intimate character portraits that explores the interactions between the characters in depth and with an unusual level of insight into human nature. There are some perfectly-crafted scenes where as the reader I felt like, yes, that is exactly how someone would behave in that situation. While the book is busy focusing on the characters, many issues emerge over the course of the novel, integrated so seamlessly that it wasn't until I looked back at the end that I fully appreciated what Keane had done. I don't want to make the book seem sentimental, because it is not at all. But it is very empathetic, and the author writes each character with love and sensitivity. Anne's mental illness causes ruptures in her marriage with Brian, amongst other things, while the Gleesons seem determined to honor commitment no matter what troubles befall them. I love the understanding that consequences can be far-reaching, both over time and to other people. The book follows the Gleeson daughter, Kate, and the Stanhope son, Peter, over many years, and yet they can never fully escape their beginnings. You probably know by now if this is a YOU book. It's one of those for readers who like to explore the nuances of human behaviour and relationships. An obvious choice if you loved Ng's Little Fires Everywhere. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chaima ✨ شيماء

    Lying in my bed at night, after finishing this book, I found myself unwilling audience to a seethe of objectionable thoughts about the story, like watching a flickering home movie projected into a makeshift screen. My mind refused to release me to oblivion, and, although the ending brings to mind the setting of one’s soul at ease and the wheeling of stars into alignment once again, I turned the last page feeling heavier with what I knew. I still do. So, what’s this book about? Brian Stanhope and Lying in my bed at night, after finishing this book, I found myself unwilling audience to a seethe of objectionable thoughts about the story, like watching a flickering home movie projected into a makeshift screen. My mind refused to release me to oblivion, and, although the ending brings to mind the setting of one’s soul at ease and the wheeling of stars into alignment once again, I turned the last page feeling heavier with what I knew. I still do. So, what’s this book about? Brian Stanhope and Francis Gleeson are friends, but perhaps “friends” is an inaccurate word to use. They moved into neighboring homes in the small town of Gillam with their respective new brides, Anne and Lena, but mainly were thrown together by the fact that they were both rookie cops in a tough Bronx precinct—a situation which, at the time, did not seem necessarily unpropitious. Francis’s youngest daughter, Kate, and Brian’s only son, Peter, sought true friendship in the golden harbor of each other’s arms, but tragedy found them first. Violence and towering rage were like a leak that stole all the air from their homes, and soon, a final invisible mooring line snapped, and Kate and Peter are both cast adrift. Years later, Kate and Peter are still rummaging the dark, and each other, for happiness, spitting the past out behind them and throwing themselves into the future. But once unearthed, there was no containing the memories, and they are soon being hunted by all the sorrows they had collected over the years—their whole arsenal, turned against them. Kate and Peter will soon find out that tragedies do not immunize you against further tragedies, misfortune doesn’t get scattered around in fair proportions, and the past could become a stone that quickly drags you to the depths when “you repeat what you do not repair.” The plot of Ask Again, Yes, for a while, has some trouble catching flight, but as the families’ tragedy is dragged to the fore, the depth of the author’s storytelling prowess unveils itself. There’s a vicious grace and a soul-baring emotional honesty to the novel, and Keane has deftly crafted a masterly wrought diorama full of realistically rendered relationships and tensions, observations about family, the ties that bind mothers and sons even through years of separation, and the ways love ferments in the airless conditions of unaddressed trauma. The author invites us into the low-lit corners of every household at those tremulous moments in which the whole human condition is suddenly within reach, if heartbreakingly so, and the story she tells, as strange in its specificity as it is, remains universal in its familiarity. One of the novel’s most poignant successes is the way Keane challenges her readers—and characters—by offering a myriad of angles on the events, and infusing each with enough complexity to make them lodge themselves in the reader’s mind. The tragedy that has befallen the Gleeson and Stanhope families is disinterred throughout the novel, reexamined and re-discussed. Loose threads are picked out of every version and efforts are made to knit it all together in order to make a single, comprehensible tale. Sometimes those threads leave gaps too wide to be darned, making all that has unfolded devoid of a clear rhyme and reason. Keane lets every character speak for themselves, and allows the reader to eavesdrop on the layered complications of their hearts, and decide which character should capture their allegiance. She never ignores their faults, their achingly human proneness to self-justification, but she also captures their longing to be kind, and despite myself, I often suffered a deep pang of sympathy for them. That’s what good storytelling does—it transforms a character from a tangential sketch into a human being, links “us” to “them.” If there's a fault to be found here is that the novel's inhabitants could emote more effusively. More often than not, they come off as silent, set apart from the violence of their emotions. That's not enough, however, to put a serious dent in the novel's spell. Ask Again, Yes is irreversibly sanguine; but it isn’t the easiest read. It's a dark, disturbing book; and as you read the novel, it is impossible to dislodge a sense of foreboding from your mind—the feeling like seeing a shark’s fin vanishing beneath the waves. We do not so much wonder what might happen as worry about what will happen. That haunted atmosphere permeates every page, and I could feel the dread stirring in me like ash as Kate and Peter stubbornly carry the hopelessness none of them would utter before them, hoping for the other to filch it away. Ask Again, Yes is more than just another story about a family with little to offer but a sad history. There's plenty of nuance, dimension and empathy to Keane’s novel. Ask Again, Yes provides a potently visceral portrait of what it’s like to live with mental illness, while delicately probing the long-lasting repercussions of its non-treatment. The layered narrative across the decades shows how attitudes towards mental illness are changing for the better—but we still have a long way to go. At the novel’s heart also lurks the certainty that the things one is made to endure in childhood could not be undone and would steer their fates for many years to come, that the pain suffered in youth is bound to leave a rotten place, like a bruise on fruit, somewhere on one's soul. "The beginning of one’s life matters the most,” writes Keane, “life is top-heavy that way." Even so, Ask Again, Yes, wades through the darkness with heart. Hope makes an appearance (or, if anything, the last stage before hope becomes attainable). Hope that no matter how far you travel away from your loved ones, it’ll come a day when you will make out each other’s silhouettes again. That you may have given each other wounds, but they are not always mortal. “Things are better now, they feel like they’re getting better—don’t they? But there might be more coming. This might be the least of it. Have you thought about that? We knew nothing about what it meant to grow up, to be partners, parents, all of it. Nothing. And maybe we still don’t. Would you have said yes back then if you’d known?” “But I know now. So ask me.” But he couldn’t find the right words. “I’ll give you a hint,” she said, squeezing his hands until he looked up to meet her eyes. “Then and now, I say yes.” Ask Again, Yes is a hugely sensitive and deeply humanizing story about the never-ending ache of love and loss. Not to be missed! BLOG | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | TUMBLR

  3. 4 out of 5

    Susanne Strong

    5 Stars. Edited after much thought to revise rating from 4.25 Stars to 5 Stars. The ramifications of this novel and its ending have stayed with me! “Ask Again, Yes” is Literary Fiction at its best! This novel is an exploration of life, love, family, mistakes and the tragedies of everyday life. The Stanhopes and the Gleasons are at odds. Will they ever heal the rift that tore their families apart? Alcoholism, friendship, forgiveness, mental illness, love and tragedy. These are the themes of “Ask 5 Stars. Edited after much thought to revise rating from 4.25 Stars to 5 Stars. The ramifications of this novel and its ending have stayed with me! “Ask Again, Yes” is Literary Fiction at its best! This novel is an exploration of life, love, family, mistakes and the tragedies of everyday life. The Stanhopes and the Gleasons are at odds. Will they ever heal the rift that tore their families apart? Alcoholism, friendship, forgiveness, mental illness, love and tragedy. These are the themes of “Ask Again, Yes.” This is one heck of an engrossing novel. I truly felt for the characters of Peter and Kate. The trials and tribulations of two families - your heart will literally be pulled in two, feeling bad for each, at certain points in time, almost feeling as if you are betraying the other. Admittedly, parts of this novel totally shocked me. I felt as though I should have understood certain things from the get go and didn’t and when things came to light I was like “oh!” Then there is the ending… yes, tears sprung to my eyes, (some of you are like, yeah “big surprise, you old sap!”). Seriously though, I simply couldn’t help myself! If you love literary fiction, fiction or are just looking for a great read, grab this and read it. You will not be disappointed. This was a buddy read with Kaceey. I loved reading this one with you Kaceey and was so glad that you ended up liking this one too! Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner and Mary Beth Keane for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 4.7.19. Will be published on Amazon and Twitter on 5.28.19.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    Book of the Month selection June 2019 "The thing is, Peter, grown-ups don't know what they're doing any better than kids do. That's the truth." You've seen this book around before. You know the one I'm talking about; it's got an aesthetically pleasing blue-green cover, boasts of domestic drama and in-depth character study of the darker side of families, while promising the reader that they will experience a grand range of emotion by the time the final page is turned. These books are one thing, pur Book of the Month selection June 2019 "The thing is, Peter, grown-ups don't know what they're doing any better than kids do. That's the truth." You've seen this book around before. You know the one I'm talking about; it's got an aesthetically pleasing blue-green cover, boasts of domestic drama and in-depth character study of the darker side of families, while promising the reader that they will experience a grand range of emotion by the time the final page is turned. These books are one thing, pure and simple: book club bait. While I always fall for the cover, the inside of such books rarely leaves a longterm impression on me, because it is truly difficult for a book that follows the same procedure and format as every other in its genre to attain a memorable status in my internal hard drive. Yes, this book did follow that formula, remaining fairly predictable, but for some reason these characters were quite enticing, and the author did leave an impression that kept me thinking about these characters well after finishing their story. I can't help but loosely compare this book to the likes of Liane Moriarty, because I had a similar reading experience while working through Ask Again, Yes as I did when I picked up Big Little Lies. Years ago, I joined an online bookclub with my sister and the first month we participated, we were discussing BLL. It was long, and I was intimidated, and the beginning portions were incredibly slow, so much so that I almost tossed the book and told Irina she was on her own. ;) I'm really glad she encouraged me to stick with it, because once I was fully invested in the characters, I began to breeze through and consider it one of the first books to help me embrace the lighter side of the mystery genre. AAY has a very similar setup-slow burning intro while we get acquainted with the characters, and then we steadily speed up once a few "things" begin to happen. There are many, many emotional aspects to this story, and for the most part it's very sad and mildly heavy, but the ending was done so well that it kept my final verdict as hopeful, while teaching me where to be grateful. The characters of both families suffer tremendously in various ways over the years, and some of the reasons are based on their choices, but most of the outcomes are results of unexpected circumstances, which gave a tense, straining sensation as the story unfolds. If you enjoy family sagas that feature coming-of-age in less than ideal circumstances, you may want to give this one a try for yourself. Some of the buzz-worthy topics included are mental health, addiction, cancer, and how tragedy affects all sorts of relationships, such as married couples and parents/children. Those are some tough issues to cover, but this book does so in very mild ways, with little to no graphic content, and mainly just in being referred to prior to an event or as a memory. The possible discussions that will spur from reading this book are endless, and I cannot wait to see how the general public reacts to Ask Again, Yes once it's released. *Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    4.5 stars 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 4.5 stars 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dorie - Traveling Sister :)

    ***NOW AVAILABLE*** This is one of those books that, as I pondered writing this review, I have changed my rating from a 4 to a 5. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how incredibly strong the characters in this book are, I finished it last week and I’m still thinking about them., all of them. If you love strong character driven books, you will love this one! I had a bit of believability issues with one of the main characters but it doesn’t take away from the entire body of work. From ***NOW AVAILABLE*** This is one of those books that, as I pondered writing this review, I have changed my rating from a 4 to a 5. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how incredibly strong the characters in this book are, I finished it last week and I’m still thinking about them., all of them. If you love strong character driven books, you will love this one! I had a bit of believability issues with one of the main characters but it doesn’t take away from the entire body of work. From the blurb you know that this novel is about two neighboring families, both husbands are policemen who started out as rookies on the NYPD force. The book is told from several points of view which I think greatly improved my understanding of how the individuals felt and acted. Francis Gleeson has had a great career, he is strong willed, intelligent, diligent and yet with his family he has an incredible soft touch. He is the first to move to this new suburb, he, his wife and two daughters are doing well individually and as a family, although Lena is at times lonely and would like a larger life outside the home. Within months Brian and Anne move in next door to the Gleeson’s. Brian and Francis are not close friends at this point, but they are friendly. Anne is quite a different matter, she does not go out of her way to befriend the Gleesons and keeps to her house much of the time. Later, both Anne and Lena have children only six months apart, Peter and Kate, who are immediately bonded to each other even as little friends. Their story will play a huge part in the novel. A terrible incident occurs which changes the lives of everyone in both families, it is tragic, horrific and probably could have been avoided. The Stanhopes are forced to move away. I would not spoil this novel for anyone by giving away anything more. This is a book that I couldn’t wait to get back to and finished in two days. This story hits all the emotional buttons, happiness, extreme sadness, frustration, hope, love and forgiveness. We are taken through the lives of these families who handle the tragedy in very different ways. The plot flows very well and is extremely well thought out. We really get to know these people, this is the first book this year that has touched me in this way. Buy the book, read it, ponder what you would do in this situation and you won’t be disappointed. As an afterthought, I did read The Walking People, by this author many years ago and it was excellent, so if you enjoy this one, go back and read the other. I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    The cover of this book is remarkable and behind the cover is a remarkable book. At first glance, the cover appears to be an example of a painting technique known as impasto (I think). Closer scrutiny reveals a typical suburban neighborhood that could be Anywhere, USA. And so it is with this novel. At first glance, Ask Again, Yes seems to be an American dream or coming of age novel and in some ways it is but beneath these obvious themes lie much more. A violent act leaves two families forever cha The cover of this book is remarkable and behind the cover is a remarkable book. At first glance, the cover appears to be an example of a painting technique known as impasto (I think). Closer scrutiny reveals a typical suburban neighborhood that could be Anywhere, USA. And so it is with this novel. At first glance, Ask Again, Yes seems to be an American dream or coming of age novel and in some ways it is but beneath these obvious themes lie much more. A violent act leaves two families forever changed and another event leaves them forever linked. You will live the decades of these characters’ lives right along with them. Mental illness, stoicism, alcoholism, achievement, love and forgiveness mark this marvelous novel and the author treats her characters with great tenderness. You won’t forget them.

  8. 5 out of 5

    BernLuvsBooks (Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas)

    Mary Beth Keane's novel, Ask Again, Yes is ultimately about family, love, mistakes, forgiveness and being able to move forward in life, to move past tragedy and embrace our lives - both the good and bad moments. This is definitely not my typical type of read but I'm so glad I gave it a try. The Gleesons and the Stanhopes fully captured me. I easily found myself invested in these people as I followed their family histories through time. Brian Stanhope and Francis Gleeson are rookie cops who meet Mary Beth Keane's novel, Ask Again, Yes is ultimately about family, love, mistakes, forgiveness and being able to move forward in life, to move past tragedy and embrace our lives - both the good and bad moments. This is definitely not my typical type of read but I'm so glad I gave it a try. The Gleesons and the Stanhopes fully captured me. I easily found myself invested in these people as I followed their family histories through time. Brian Stanhope and Francis Gleeson are rookie cops who meet at the academy and are then assigned to the same precinct. Years later they find themselves living next to each other, their children becoming friends and the families forever intertwined. This is also a story that sheds light on some of the darker aspects of family life - alcoholism, mental illness, abuse and infidelity. On a night when young Peter Stanhope and Kate Gleeson sneak out to be together, tragedy strikes causing a huge rift between the two families. The two teenagers are ripped apart from each other despite their love for each other. Can their love survive distance, time and familial obligation? I loved Kate and Peter so much! I was fully invested in their story and how it evolved over time. Though this was a slow moving novel (which I'm typically not a huge fan of), I found myself coming back to it every chance I got. The characters were well fleshed out and Keane wrote about mental illness with sensitivity. What I enjoyed most was that the relationships were not fluffy and easy - they were messy, complicated and deeply moving. This thought provoking book is one that should not be missed! Thank you to Mary Beth Keane, Scribner and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review an arc of this book!

  9. 4 out of 5

    karen

    NOW AVAILABLE!! 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 the NOW AVAILABLE!! 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? it does! does it look like this? it does! does it look like this? it does! I THINK IT IS A BOOK CLUB BOOK!!! come to my blog!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Four angsty, dysfunctional, mind blowing, pushes you take a forty years journey of vivid characters and you got speechless on some parts of it starts!!! Questions: 1) Is this book including real big problems that the characters are dealing with as like alcoholism, mental illness, parental abandonment, cheating, deadly diseases, murder attempt? YESSS! 2) Is it also about dysfunctional two families and your daily dramas? YESSS! 3) Are there also a big love story between two families’ children? YESSS 4) Four angsty, dysfunctional, mind blowing, pushes you take a forty years journey of vivid characters and you got speechless on some parts of it starts!!! Questions: 1) Is this book including real big problems that the characters are dealing with as like alcoholism, mental illness, parental abandonment, cheating, deadly diseases, murder attempt? YESSS! 2) Is it also about dysfunctional two families and your daily dramas? YESSS! 3) Are there also a big love story between two families’ children? YESSS 4) Are these two children, Kate and Peter, forcedly separated after a family tragedy ( One of them’s mother shot the other’s father, oh yesss, that’s what I called big tragedy)when they were 13, but they occasionally find each other ? YESSS but hmmm okay YESSS 5) are we having a great 40 years journey of those two family members? YESSS! 6) Did the book remind you of True Detective episodes? Hmmm partly YESSS! 7) Does it have a chance for nominations of Best Goodreads Fiction 2019? Oh YESSS! 8) So do you recommend this book to the others? DON’T ASK ME AGAIN OF COURSE YESSS!!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    j e w e l s

    FIVE UNPUTDOWNABLE STARS Well. No reason to read any more books this year. This is it. My favorite of 2019. While I tend to devour the psychological suspense novels, I also love a good and messy family drama novel. Ask Again, Yes is a character driven family saga covering almost three generations from Ireland to contemporary New York state. The story revolves around two couples living as neighbors, but not really as friends. There is something a little cold about one of the wives and even though FIVE UNPUTDOWNABLE STARS Well. No reason to read any more books this year. This is it. My favorite of 2019. While I tend to devour the psychological suspense novels, I also love a good and messy family drama novel. Ask Again, Yes is a character driven family saga covering almost three generations from Ireland to contemporary New York state. The story revolves around two couples living as neighbors, but not really as friends. There is something a little cold about one of the wives and even though the men work as cops together, the families never hit it off. Over the years, one child from each family becomes very close with the other, and at the age of fourteen, this couple realizes they may even love each other. But then, a tragic incident. Their friendship and love for each other is put to the test many times in the years that follow for our young lovebirds. However, this is so much more than a run of the mill Romeo and Juliet story. Mary Beth Keane is a remarkable and gifted writer. She writes with empathy and concern for all her fictional characters. She cares about them. And, so will you. She seamlessly weaves in alcoholism, mental illness, parental obligations and marriage…so very carefully woven together, the problems sneak up on the reader just as they tend to do in real life. Heartbreaking at times-never sentimental, uplifting other times, Ask Again, Yes is one of those books you will always remember reading. I am putting it up there with my all-time fave The Poisonwood Bible. The 🎧audio🎧 is perfection—I listened to this book constantly for two days. It is an unforgettable story!

  12. 5 out of 5

    JanB

    5 enthusiastic stars! “Life is top heavy, that what happens early matters the most in shaping you”. The author writes beautifully and she showed us this truth in these characters in a way that was profound and deeply moving. We all start our lives full of promise and hope, never knowing the heartache and trials that await us. Such is life. And most of us would do it all over again. This is a difficult book to summarize without spoilers so I’m keeping this review short on plot. The Stanhopes and Gl 5 enthusiastic stars! “Life is top heavy, that what happens early matters the most in shaping you”. The author writes beautifully and she showed us this truth in these characters in a way that was profound and deeply moving. We all start our lives full of promise and hope, never knowing the heartache and trials that await us. Such is life. And most of us would do it all over again. This is a difficult book to summarize without spoilers so I’m keeping this review short on plot. The Stanhopes and Gleesons become neighbors in a suburb of NYC, when both are young married couples starting their families, full of hope for the future. Although both husbands are with the NYC police department, and are now next door neighbors, they have little to do with one another socially. However, a deep friendship blooms between 2 of their children, Kate and Peter. Tragedy strikes and the resulting trauma changes the course of their lives. The focus is on how these two families find their way through it and make peace with the past. They go through a world of heartache but, written with empathy and insight, the story is not without hope. Best of all, this story is a realistic one with characters that felt real to me, and ones I came to care about deeply. " ...memory is a fact that has been dyed and trimmed and rinsed so many times that it comes out looking almost unrecognizable to anyone else who was in that room...." If you enjoy excellent writing and complicated family stories that are character-driven with thought-provoking themes, then pick this one up. A lot of heavy themes are covered but the author weaves them in so seamlessly that it works beautifully. Nothing I can say will do this book justice. This is a case where the hype is justified and it has earned a place on my all-time favorites list. • Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. • This was a buddy read with Marialyce and a book that sparked terrific discussions. This would make a great book club choice. Our duo review of this and others can be found on her blog at https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kaceey

    A beautifully crafted family drama that explores love, forgiveness and the ability to move on. Do you have the strength to move past a tragedy? Come out the other side stronger? Or will the crushing weight of it all define you, re-shaping your life? Francis and Lena Gleeson are raising their 3 daughters in a quiet neighborhood. Frances is a police officer well respected by all. A rising star in his department, he has truly found his calling. Brian Stanhope lives next door with his wife Anne and th A beautifully crafted family drama that explores love, forgiveness and the ability to move on. Do you have the strength to move past a tragedy? Come out the other side stronger? Or will the crushing weight of it all define you, re-shaping your life? Francis and Lena Gleeson are raising their 3 daughters in a quiet neighborhood. Frances is a police officer well respected by all. A rising star in his department, he has truly found his calling. Brian Stanhope lives next door with his wife Anne and their son. Brian too is a police officer, and though he was once partnered with Francis, his career path has fallen well behind. When a tragedy rocks the lives of both families no one is left unscathed. Not the parents, not the children. All are left in the aftermath, trying to stitch their lives back together and move forward. This book left me at a loss for words. It touched me profoundly. Not to tears, but somewhere perhaps even deeper, causing me to look back at my own family...my life. How a singular event in your past can shape your life. Taking you down a road you may have otherwise never ventured. Even now...I find myself still reflecting upon this book. An emotional buddy read with Susanne! Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner and Mary Beth Keane for an ARC to read and review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    marilyn

    * I've added a link to an article called A conversation with Mary Beth Keane, best-selling author of "Ask Again, Yes" to the bottom of this review.* I didn't want to put this book down from the moment I started it...too bad I needed sleep and had other things I needed to do. Still I read it within a few short days and it hurt my heart but also, filled me with hope. Mary Beth Keane did a great job of putting her words down on paper. Kate and Peter, born to neighbors, 6 months apart, had a connecti * I've added a link to an article called A conversation with Mary Beth Keane, best-selling author of "Ask Again, Yes" to the bottom of this review.* I didn't want to put this book down from the moment I started it...too bad I needed sleep and had other things I needed to do. Still I read it within a few short days and it hurt my heart but also, filled me with hope. Mary Beth Keane did a great job of putting her words down on paper. Kate and Peter, born to neighbors, 6 months apart, had a connection from the beginning of their time. They were best friends but more than best friends, they knew each other and loved each other before they were even aware of that fact. Kate had a blessed life and a loving family but Peter had a harsh, troubled life, both a troubled dad and a troubled mom. Peter carried the weight of the world on his young shoulders, weight that a child should not have to carry. When Kate is 13, Peter 14, something happens that shatters their lives and the lives of their families. Peter and his family have to leave immediately and Kate is left with a hole in her heart, Peter too is left with a hole, holes that only the other can fill. Eventually Kate and Peter make contact again and all of the past is still with them and their families, past that is part of their present too. I won't say more about the book except that it was so heart-wrenching, so real, but also so full of family and love, that I finished the book wanting to continue being a part of Kate and Peter's lives. Here's a link to an article about this book: https://www.amazonbookreview.com/post... Thank you to Scribner and NetGalley for this ARC.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Unresolved childhood experiences of loss and trauma are repeated in the next generation... is a theme that’s explored brilliantly. With many disturbing themes: abuse, abandonment, mental illness, alcoholism, infidelity, with a tragic defining moment.....the author takes readers on a 40 year journey - (three family generations) - with characters that are genuine and broken. The emotional reactions of family members is projected on to others - shifting responsibility. We also see how disease follow Unresolved childhood experiences of loss and trauma are repeated in the next generation... is a theme that’s explored brilliantly. With many disturbing themes: abuse, abandonment, mental illness, alcoholism, infidelity, with a tragic defining moment.....the author takes readers on a 40 year journey - (three family generations) - with characters that are genuine and broken. The emotional reactions of family members is projected on to others - shifting responsibility. We also see how disease follows one generation to another generation. Painful life crushing themes..has us look at situations that have not been resolved. We look at wounded characters reacting and damaging others from their woundedness. Awareness and insights about trying to cope with the past - understanding rather than blame - opens the doors to love and forgiveness. No light stroll through this novel...but the courage to reclaim one’s best self delves into the theme of redemption... There’s plenty of space for the reader to interpret. Engrossing - compelling - a worthy read!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brenda - Host of Traveling Sisters & Friends

    One of the best books I have read for a Group read pick! Ask, Again, Yes is a moving, quiet beautifully written family drama that explores love, forgiveness, friendship, tragedy and trauma that takes place over four decades. We see neighbors whose lives are intertwined when tragedy strikes and a violent act tears them apart. Mary Beth Keane writes with compassion and I could feel the tenderness, generosity and grace she has given her characters. I was completely drawn into the lives of Peter and One of the best books I have read for a Group read pick! Ask, Again, Yes is a moving, quiet beautifully written family drama that explores love, forgiveness, friendship, tragedy and trauma that takes place over four decades. We see neighbors whose lives are intertwined when tragedy strikes and a violent act tears them apart. Mary Beth Keane writes with compassion and I could feel the tenderness, generosity and grace she has given her characters. I was completely drawn into the lives of Peter and Kate who are both flawed by their childhood. I was fully invested in them over the years as they piece together their lives. There are many things quietly written in the sentences here and secrets in the layers to the story. At times I felt like I was observing the story and left to find those secrets for myself instead of being shown the story and allowing me to feel what the characters are feeling. It left me so many questions as I was reading the story to pondered and so much I wanted to talk about. The ending left me with too many questions with not enough closure with the many variables left opened for me to delve deep into the story with my own thoughts. However, that is what makes this story an excellent choice for group reads to discuss the many variables to this story and I really enjoyed discussing this one with Kim and a few of our Traveling Sisters. I highly recommend. Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for my complimentary copy. https://twosisterslostinacoulee.com/2...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    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 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!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This one was really hard to rate until I thought things through as I wrote my review. There are some very strong positives about this book, but the disappointments are…well, really disappointing. First, the positives. Ask Again,Yes is extremely well written. This author can really tell a tale in a most accomplished manner. The story involves the relationships between two families and amongst the individual members of both from the early 1970s to the present. The depth and complexity of the writi This one was really hard to rate until I thought things through as I wrote my review. There are some very strong positives about this book, but the disappointments are…well, really disappointing. First, the positives. Ask Again,Yes is extremely well written. This author can really tell a tale in a most accomplished manner. The story involves the relationships between two families and amongst the individual members of both from the early 1970s to the present. The depth and complexity of the writing is impressive. I thought for the most part these people were characterized in a deep and realistic fashion. Moreover, my interest, though it waxed and waned a bit, did not falter though the novel is fairly long. Then there are the negatives. I found the first 20% of the book to be on the slow side; it was hard to grasp where the story was going. The pace picks up after that, though I wasn’t flipping the pages like mad until the last 20%. In addition, I had a hard time really connecting with the main characters despite the fact they were likeable. Overall, I did enjoy the story, but it just did not draw out any major emotion in me, not even in the end. The ending is actually very well done, but it was like, “hey, that was good” as opposed to “oh, man, I’m going to cry now, and I just don’t want to leave these characters who I will be thinking about for the next couple of months.” I need those feelings to fully enjoy a book. Plus, there was just so much sadness in this novel. Too much for my current mood, I guess. Not really the book’s fault. Despite the negatives taking up more space than the positives in this review, in the end the latter actually outweighs the former, allowing me to rate this a solid 4 stars. This is indeed a quality work that I can recommend to all looking for a meaty read. Ms. Keane has made an impression on me, and I will definitely be interested in seeing what she comes up with next. I just hope it will have a more profound effect on me. Thank you Net Galley, Scribner, and Ms. Mary Beth Keane for gifting me an advanced review copy. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    For a short time they were partners, Francis and Brian, two cops from the same precinct. Then they moved their families to the same neighborhood, across the street from each other. Brian's only son and Francis's youngest daughter grow up best friends. Then something terrible happens that will divide these two family's for decades. Domestic fiction can be tricky to write, to find the right tone. This novel got it pretty neat to right. Although many dramatic occurrences happen, the tone is not over For a short time they were partners, Francis and Brian, two cops from the same precinct. Then they moved their families to the same neighborhood, across the street from each other. Brian's only son and Francis's youngest daughter grow up best friends. Then something terrible happens that will divide these two family's for decades. Domestic fiction can be tricky to write, to find the right tone. This novel got it pretty neat to right. Although many dramatic occurrences happen, the tone is not overly dramatic, in fact at times I felt it was rather cool. I prefer it that way. When I read a book that is overly dramatic in it's telling, I always compare it to a soap opera. I don't watch them and I certainly don't want to read them. The way this was told, the story itself seemed very realistic. This could happen and may have, somewhere. It deals with some important issues as well. Alcoholism and it's effect on a family, mental illness and the lack of options in the seventies. A time when what happened in a family was supposed to stay in the family. Forgiveness and regret, and what we will do for those we love. Abandonment and responsibilty, how the lingering effects sometimes takes years but unresolved issues will eventually read it ugly head. I enjoyed the changing faces of these characters, their growth as people, people who can at last acknowledge their own parts in the events that occur. Things don't happen in a vacuum as this book so adequately displays. ARC from Edelweiss.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    Maybe like a 3.5, but overall I really enjoyed this! I'm a sucker for slice-of-life stories that span generations.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    3.5 stars. The repercussions of a decision or an action can have ripple effects for years to come. No better is this demonstrated than in Mary Beth Keane's new novel, Ask Again, Yes . This story of how much we owe those we love and how much we should endure for the sake of family is tremendously thought-provoking and emotional. Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are both rookie policemen for the NYPD in the 1970s. They build a friendship of sorts based on their mutual Irish heritage, although it 3.5 stars. The repercussions of a decision or an action can have ripple effects for years to come. No better is this demonstrated than in Mary Beth Keane's new novel, Ask Again, Yes . This story of how much we owe those we love and how much we should endure for the sake of family is tremendously thought-provoking and emotional. Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are both rookie policemen for the NYPD in the 1970s. They build a friendship of sorts based on their mutual Irish heritage, although it is not a solid friendship because Francis is much more focused on being a good cop than Brian is. Still, the two wind up living next door to each other with their wives and children outside the city. While Francis' youngest daughter, Kate, and Brian's son Peter, only six months apart in age, become inseparable friends, the Stanhopes—particularly Anne, Brian's wife—keep the Gleesons at a distance. Anne isn't interested in building a relationship with her neighbors, and she is definitely against the idea of Peter and Kate becoming closer as they grow into their teenage years. One night, an explosive situation rocks both families and changes everything, inflicting irrevocable damage. Kate and Peter both are forced to make choices they might not have otherwise, and bear more burdens than they should at that age. But regardless of the circumstances, neither is far from the other's mind or heart, despite how much they are encouraged to move on. Over the course of 30-plus years, the fallout from that one night continues to wreak havoc with many lives. But rather than let it control them forever, it is up to Kate and Peter to do what they can to shed that burden. But that is easier said than done, especially with the memories of those days which keep weighing on them. "They'd both learned that a memory is a fact that's been dyed and trimmed and rinsed so many times that it comes out looking almost unrecognizable to anyone else who was in that room, anyone else who was standing on the grass beneath that telephone pole." Ask Again, Yes is a story about love, both romantic and familial. It's a story about resentment, about familial obligation, and whether you should choose your own path or do what's best for everyone else. It's also a story about not letting your past define you, and trying to find strength to rebuild even when all you want to do is curl into a hole. This book has a lot of emotions running through it, lots of situations that might cause you to think, "What would I do in this situation?" Keane is an excellent storyteller and she has created characters with real flaws, characters you wish you could shake some sense into from time to time. Perhaps because this book was more character-driven than plot-driven, it moved very slowly for me. I didn't want to stop reading it, but I kept hoping that it would grab me completely. I will admit I did get a bit emotional toward the end so it did resonate for me, but it just didn't quite blow me away as much as it has others. But given the feedback I've seen, you may want to give this one a try!! See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html. You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bianca

    Ask Again, Yes is the kind of novel that grows on you slowly but you end up loving it. It's not the love at first sight, struck by lightning kind of love, but the kind that builds without you noticing it, sort of like falling in love with someone you've known well for many years. The stories are known to us - the newer Irish immigrant and second-generation Irish in America; getting married, having kids, working as policemen. Life ticks along. It also throws some major curve-balls. The novel deals Ask Again, Yes is the kind of novel that grows on you slowly but you end up loving it. It's not the love at first sight, struck by lightning kind of love, but the kind that builds without you noticing it, sort of like falling in love with someone you've known well for many years. The stories are known to us - the newer Irish immigrant and second-generation Irish in America; getting married, having kids, working as policemen. Life ticks along. It also throws some major curve-balls. The novel deals with several themes: - mental illness, probably due to childhood trauma; - how much children are impacted by family dysfunction, unstable parents; - abandonment issues that never go away; - alcoholism; - forgiveness - to name just a few. Mary Beth Keane's writing is simple and unadorned, with no lyrical deviations, no witticisms, no spectacular phrases that one would highlight. Nevertheless, it was compelling and a very satisfying read. 4.5 stars

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill

    I can't express how much I loved this book! It was a book that drew me in from the very first page. There has been quite a bit of hype surrounding this book and it fully deserves it. The story itself is just fascinating and unique. I have never read this author before and I absolutely loved her writing style. It flows so effortlessly that you really don't want it to come to an end. I love how the story started in 1973 with the two rookie police officers Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope meeting. I can't express how much I loved this book! It was a book that drew me in from the very first page. There has been quite a bit of hype surrounding this book and it fully deserves it. The story itself is just fascinating and unique. I have never read this author before and I absolutely loved her writing style. It flows so effortlessly that you really don't want it to come to an end. I love how the story started in 1973 with the two rookie police officers Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope meeting. We get a sneak peek at their personalities as they start their career off together with perhaps a different outlook at life. They end up moving right next door to each other in a quaint little suburb called Gillam, basically living the American dream. Except they are not exactly what I would call best buddies, not even friends, more like acquaintances despite working together as partners. The American dream quickly turns into everyone's worst nightmare. A tragic event rips these two families apart. I am going to refrain from saying what the "tragic event" was because it shocked me to the core and I want you to be able to experience that also. Sadly their children Peter and Kate who were thick as thieves were torn apart with no chance to even say goodbye. As the years progress I loved being allowed into both Peter and Kate's lives. We are able to see how the tragedy impacted both of their lives. It shaped how they progressed in their lives and the challenges they had to face. These two innocent souls that had nothing to do with the tragic event yearned to know what happened to each other. Wow this was such a moving and interesting story. The characters were so well developed and I found myself obsessed with how Peter and Kate were doing and how their life would progress. I was lucky enough to be able to read this as a group read with some fellow Traveling Sisters, if you get a chance pop over and check out their thoughts. This was a definite win for the group as we all seemed to enjoy this book a lot. My only drawback was I was hoping for a bit more closure at the end. I just personally thought it wrapped up a bit too perfect and easy. Whereas I feel in real life this may have been a bit more challenging to have this ending. With that said, I still loved it! I think everyone should read this book if they have the chance. It is just that good. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks so much to Scribner and Mary Beth Keane for this amazing ARC.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    4.5 stars "How much can a family forgive?" Wow, this is an incredibly moving, beautiful story. I'm not going to lie, it was a very slow start for me, and I didn't really feel invested in this story until after 150 pages in, which is why I knocked off a half star, but once I got into this book, I finished the rest of it within a day and I stayed up till 2am not being able to put this book down. This is a literary fiction that follows two families very closely. It's a character-study kind of novel a 4.5 stars "How much can a family forgive?" Wow, this is an incredibly moving, beautiful story. I'm not going to lie, it was a very slow start for me, and I didn't really feel invested in this story until after 150 pages in, which is why I knocked off a half star, but once I got into this book, I finished the rest of it within a day and I stayed up till 2am not being able to put this book down. This is a literary fiction that follows two families very closely. It's a character-study kind of novel and follows the Gleeson's and the Stanhope's over many decades. Kate is the daughter of Francis Gleeson, and Peter is the son of Brian Stanhope, Brian and Francis briefly worked together as police officers in New York, and have recently moved in next door to one another. But the families do not get along, in fact Brian's wife Anne hates Kate and hates the romance and friendship that blossoms between Peter and Kate. A really horrific tragedy happens and we follow the people of both family's for many years after and see how certain things affect their lives. This book feels like a study on human nature and mental illness and it discusses a lot of hard topics like alcoholism and gun violence. I love how this book fleshes out every single character, and how the author wrote each character with sensitivity. We get to see the POV of every single character in these families, and I really loved that about it. It was also written very cleverly, I like how we found out big events in certain characters lives from the POV of a character who is not directly involved. I don't really know how to explain that but the writing style was gorgeous, and I'm a sucker for books that span decades and we follow a character throughout their life. Seeing how this one tragedy really shaped the life of every character was fascinating and it really does make you question what you can and can't forgive.... It's just very thought provoking. Human relationships are complicated and messy and I love that this book really explores that and what it means to love someone and forgive someone. I feel like fans of Little Fires Everywhere would really enjoy this novel. Even though this book was difficult for to get into, the pay off was so rewarding and I was actually a huge fan of the way this book ended. I felt so emotional during the last hundred pages or so, I didn't realize how much this story and these characters had gotten under my skin until it was over. But wow, definitely one of my favorites of the year so far. Thanks Scribner Books for sending me an ARC!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Blankfein

    I loved this moving story of young love, family trauma and the aftermath…mental illness, addiction, forgiveness and the power of love kept me engrossed until the very last page. Two young policeman work together in Brooklyn in the 1970s. To distance themselves from the job after the workday and to start families they both move to the suburbs with their wives and end up living next door. Francis and Lena have three daughters, one named Kate, and Brian and Anne have a son, Peter. Kate and Peter hav I loved this moving story of young love, family trauma and the aftermath…mental illness, addiction, forgiveness and the power of love kept me engrossed until the very last page. Two young policeman work together in Brooklyn in the 1970s. To distance themselves from the job after the workday and to start families they both move to the suburbs with their wives and end up living next door. Francis and Lena have three daughters, one named Kate, and Brian and Anne have a son, Peter. Kate and Peter have a strong connection and become very close, yet the families don’t socialize, mostly because Anne’s behavior is a little odd. A tragic event occurs…no spoilers here…and relationships become strained and crumble under the stress. Can we find the way back to the people who are important to us? A gripping new novel with deep characters and an accurate portrayal of the working class, Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane is a must read! Go to https://booknationbyjen.com for Q & A with Mary Beth Keane.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ Please be advised I am 100% a wrongreader of this one. However, as long as things like Book of the Month Club and Instagram and endless zero-cost-to-me reads from my library exist, I will continue reading everything available to me (generally without even looking at a blurb or a review first, as was the case here) for the rest of eternity. Simply put, Ask Again, Yes is a family drama – or what I like to call . . . . The story here fol Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ Please be advised I am 100% a wrongreader of this one. However, as long as things like Book of the Month Club and Instagram and endless zero-cost-to-me reads from my library exist, I will continue reading everything available to me (generally without even looking at a blurb or a review first, as was the case here) for the rest of eternity. Simply put, Ask Again, Yes is a family drama – or what I like to call . . . . The story here follows two families for decades and decades and decades. It takes a turn with the occurrence of a superbadawful and continues on from there until it comes full circle. As I said above, I have read a crapton of books like these. Mainly because Oprah used to push them by saying stuff like . . . . I like to be messed up. Unfortunately stories like this tend to not work out so great for me because . . . . Now, there are exceptions (lookin at you, Ove), but generally I feel manipulated when I finish this type of book and it results in a low rating because I live for reads that truly make me feel the feeeeeeeelz, not ones that make me feel like a failure because no matter how hard the author tried, my robot heart just couldn’t get on board. I would have given this three stars, but there was a decade-long timehop that wound up with everything that made the story take its second twist being glossed over and that was unacceptable to me. Rarely do I say books should be longer, but in this case a hundred or more pages would have been happily accepted.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce

    If you could travel back in time would you? Would you do the same things you have done, marry the same partner, have the children you had, lived in places you have lived in...or would you have made different choices, made different decisions, gone along a different path then the one you now find yourself on? Jan and I read this story and though both of us came away with different feelings, we both agreed that life offers us many choices and also has thrown many curves at us at record breaking sp If you could travel back in time would you? Would you do the same things you have done, marry the same partner, have the children you had, lived in places you have lived in...or would you have made different choices, made different decisions, gone along a different path then the one you now find yourself on? Jan and I read this story and though both of us came away with different feelings, we both agreed that life offers us many choices and also has thrown many curves at us at record breaking speed. “The thing is, Peter, grown-ups don't know what they're doing any better than kids do. That's the truth.” In this story we meet troubled people. Two couples united in their husband's jobs as New York City policemen, their children, and the fact they live next to one another find that through all points to a closeness, a tie that should have bound them together, all is not as it should be. There are many topics explored in this story, chief among them the effects of mental illness and the devastation it often wields on family, particularly children. We also see the effects of alcoholism and its devastation of not only the alcoholic but also on those who love him. We see the result of parental neglect, that trait of uncaring that makes a child feel always a sense of loss, a feeling of not belonging of not mattering. It's hard not to feel for the members of the two families we meet in this story, the Gleesons and the Sanhopes. Theirs is a story of hardship, of finding a way through unhappiness, and of love, loyalty and the hope that tomorrow will be a better day. While I thought the writing was excellent, I was left with some questions about this story. I so wanted to know more and perhaps it is that alone that made this book a bit less than a five star read for me. I do know that looking through another's window never brings you happiness, for what you desire and see is ever so different from what reality says will happen. That American dream of a loving family, a house in the suburbs, and happiness abounding is not reality now is it? For Jan and my reviews plus a look at the author, you can go here: http://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpress...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

    Stretched over four decades, Ask Again, Yes is a deeply moving and poignant story of two families bound together by a tragedy that is impossible to forget and hard to forgive. Next door neighbours, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are both cops in the NYPD, both newly married and with children on the way. Francis' wife Lena is keen to be friends with her neighbour Anne, but Anne does not wish to have anything to do with her neighbours. Their children, Peter and Kate are born only 6 months apar Stretched over four decades, Ask Again, Yes is a deeply moving and poignant story of two families bound together by a tragedy that is impossible to forget and hard to forgive. Next door neighbours, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are both cops in the NYPD, both newly married and with children on the way. Francis' wife Lena is keen to be friends with her neighbour Anne, but Anne does not wish to have anything to do with her neighbours. Their children, Peter and Kate are born only 6 months apart from each other and become friends despite Anne's disapproval and her strange behaviour which is getting out of control. There's been a bit of hype surrounding Ask Again, Yes and after reading it, I believe it is justified. I love a good family drama, especially the ones that span over a lifetime with a cast of characters you get to know and like. This is definitely one of those books. The character and plot development was slow to start with, but once you get through the first few chapters, you will want to stay around the two families to see how their lives progress and where their story goes. What I appreciated in the book was the contrast between the two families - flawed Stanhopes versus lovely Gleesons - and then suddenly the realisation that the seemingly unblemished characters such as Francis Gleeson also had their flaws. The book also deals with some tough issues such as alcoholism and mental illness which I found to be portrayed in a sensitive but realistic way. Ask Again, Yes is a fascinating story about relationships, love and ultimately, forgiveness that I recommend to anyone interested in relationships and nuances of human behaviour. Many thanks to Penguin UK - Michael Joseph for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Somehow, Mary Beth Keane has made something new and fresh and and profound in this novel about two families. She writes about the age-old topics of mental illness, love, loneliness and alcoholism but does it with such precision and care that the characters come alive. I don't like book titles that are sentences and was annoyed by this one - until I figured out what it meant. I love this book. I am so glad I own the hard copy because I plan to press it into the hands of several friends.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    4.5 Stars ”There was no predicting where life would go. There was no real way for a person to try something out, see if he liked it – the words he’d chosen when he told his uncle Patsy that he’d gotten into the police academy – because you try it and try it and try it a little longer and next thing it’s who you are. One minute he’d been standing in a bog on the other side of the Atlantic and next thing he knew he was a cop. In America. In the worst neighborhood of the best known city in the worl 4.5 Stars ”There was no predicting where life would go. There was no real way for a person to try something out, see if he liked it – the words he’d chosen when he told his uncle Patsy that he’d gotten into the police academy – because you try it and try it and try it a little longer and next thing it’s who you are. One minute he’d been standing in a bog on the other side of the Atlantic and next thing he knew he was a cop. In America. In the worst neighborhood of the best known city in the world.” This story begins in New York City, in 1973, but there’s a sense of timeliness in the evolution of this story that makes it blend in with the New York City of the 1930s-50’s, showing a bit less of the glamorous side of the city, this is seen through the eyes of the people who live in the neighborhoods beyond Manhattan. As this begins, you see this through the eyes of two of New York’s Finest, NYPD, one is an immigrant from Ireland, looking into the face of a dead man and realizing he had not fully contemplated this part of the job. ”In the old country someone would have opened a window to let the man’s spirit fly out, but any souls let loose here in the South Bronx would be free only so far as they could bat around four walls until, exhausted, they wilted in the heat and were forgotten.” Following these two men and their families over the years that follow, this story covers lots of territory including mental illness, alcoholism, forgiveness, tolerance, the melding of cultures in America, but also particularly in this location and time, as each family member of these two families voices their views from the perspective of their own lives. It’s a beautifully shared story, and in some ways her writing is that perfect blend of simplicity, intensity and loveliness. Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book!

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