Title: Between Before and After
Author: Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Genre: YA Historical, Mystery
Release Date: February 5th, 2019
Publisher: Blink YA
Source: ARC received from publisher which did not influence my opinion
My rating: 4 stars
“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.
Now, I’m always interested in stories that connect different times in the past. Usually I like when they are related to more of major historical events, but this one had its own connections that definitely kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering where it would all go, and how it would all connect. As we followed through the mother, Elaine’s time period, there were so many things going on in her life that it kept me guessing and catching clues for paths to try to figure out just what the major secret she was hiding from her daughter was. I started to figure it out a bit, once we learned of the crush Elaine had, but how that all turned out wasn’t the exact path I’d predicted in my head, and I love how an author can keep you guessing, and even when you start to figure it out, still have surprises left for you in the end! I liked how even though we had Molly’s Uncle Stephen who was very religious, and then her mother who was not happy with god, all of that was done without seeming to force the reader to feel one way or the other. Definitely a great mystery and also a good family story. It was fun to read about a trip to the very first McDonald’s in their town back in that time period and compare it to what the fast food restaurant is today. Now, I can’t give a specific quote, in case anything changes in the final edition of the book, but there was one line or bit that I really, really liked. A part where one of the characters said that a good story isn’t written to teach a lesson. Anything that the reader learns is through what they identify with in the story. Also they said something about there being something in the human heart that needs a story. I believe all of those things are true. At least for me, and the books that I read.
About the Author:
All of my books have an element of mystery and magic, even the realistic stories. And as a friend pointed out, there is a library in every one of them. It must be because libraries have always been magical places for me.
Maureen McQuerry is an award winning poet, novelist and teacher. Her YA novel, The Peculiars (Abrams/Amulet 2012) is an ALA Best Book for Young Adult Readers 2013, Bank Street and Horne Book recommended book, and a winner of the Westchester Award. Her most recent book is Beyond the Door (Abrams/Amulet), a Booklist top Ten Fantasy/SciFi for Youth. It is the first in a MG duo that combines, Celtic myth, shapeshifters and a secret code in a coming of age story. The adventure continues in The Telling Stone. Beyond the Door is a current finalist for the WA State Book awards.
- Prize: 5 Finished Copies of Between Before and After by
Maureen Doyle McQuerry + Signed Bookplates (USA only)
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