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Book Review: Before We Were Strangers


Before We Were Strangers by Brenda Novak– Five-year-old Sloane McBride couldn’t sleep that night. Her parents were arguing again, their harsh words heating the cool autumn air. And then there was that other sound–the ominous thump before all went quiet.

In the morning, her mother was gone. The official story was that she left. Her loving, devoted mother! That hadn’t sat any better at the time than it did when Sloane moved out at eighteen, anxious to leave her small Texas hometown in search of anywhere else. But not even a fresh start working as a model in New York could keep the nightmares at bay. Or her fears that the domineering father she grew up with wasn’t just difficult–he was deadly.

Now another traumatic loss forces Sloane to realize she owes it to her mother to find out the truth, even if it means returning to a small town full of secrets and lies, a jilted ex-boyfriend and a father and brother who’d rather see her silenced. But as Sloane starts digging into the past, the question isn’t whether she can uncover what really happened that night…it’s what will remain of her family if she does?

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Published: December 4, 2018

Acquired: Public Library E-book

My Rating:  4 Stars

My Thoughts: I was anticipating this book to be just a mystery when in reality it was a romantic suspense with a very well done mystery. The story begins with Sloane returning to her hometown for the first time in 18 years to finally confront the mystery surrounding her mother’s disappearance when Sloane was only 5 years old. Sloane suspected her father had caused her mother’s disappearance based on the memories she retained from that night 23 years ago. By returning home to investigate Sloane was forced to confront not only her father but her brother, her high school boyfriend and her childhood best friend- all of whom she left behind when she ran. 

The story sucked me in immediately. There were several subplots running within the main plot but they all added to the story and were integral pieces of how the story ended. I found Sloane to be a great main character- she was intelligent, determined, flawed, and she felt very real. Micah, her high school boyfriend, was another character that I liked but I did not care for Sloane’s childhood best friend, Paige. She was manipulative and spiteful- in the beginning she came across as a friend but as the story went on the depths of her manipulation and deceit started to become evident. The strange relationship between the three characters of Sloane, Paige, and Micah was not exactly a love triangle and it involved no cheating but there was a real creepy off-putting factor to Paige’s obsession with Micah and with Sloane, to a certain extent. 

From very early on in the story I was sure I had the mystery figured out. It seemed very straightforward and all foreshadowing pointed in one direction. Then the twists started happening and things were clearly not as they appeared to be. I could not put the book down at that point. I had to know the how and the why immediately. The ending was very satisfying and the epilogue wrapped up all the story lines perfectly. 

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