The space between before and after is a curious place to define for this is where forgotten truths and secrets often lie. This pocket of time can be founded by the past where all the things we wish to tuck away are gradually layered. However, the space between before and after is not just limited to the past for it extends itself throughout multiple generations that enclose their individual desires and confidences. Author Maureen Doyle McQuerry’s usage of dual narratives which span through time in her latest work, Between Before and After, demonstrates how the past and the future are inevitably connected within time’s grasp.
In 1955, Molly is a young girl who wishes to piece together fragments of her mother’s past. Back in 1918, all Elaine wishes is survival for her brother and herself who must fend for themselves after their mother’s passing. In the process of reading the story, readers gain a firm understanding of the characters and how mother, Elaine, and daughter, Molly, are reflections of each other yet they cannot find a way to really connect.
The chapters in Between Before and After alternate between Molly and Elaine’s narrative and time; it arises interesting perceptions about what the present actually constitutes. For Elaine, the idea of time is relative because she is constantly reliving her moments from before; this is a part of her truth and her identity. Molly, on the other hand, who is still constructing her sense of self, considers knowing everything about her mother’s past as something integral towards her own personal construction.
I enjoyed how small passages of Elaine’s own version of Hansel and Gretel are scattered throughout the story like breadcrumbs in their own right. It serves as a parallel to the ongoing events of the time and is symbolic to how life turns into a story of its own.
Altogether, this was a great historical coming of age novel that blends the generations and brings a great tide of emotions through closure and understanding.
About the Book
Between Before and After
by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Release date: February 5, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Mystery
“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.
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5 Finished Copies of Between Before & After
by Maureen Doyle McQuerry + Signed Bookplates (USA only)
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