Published by Blink on February 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: The Publisher, Blog Tour
My content rating: YA (Characters have sex, Some violence)
“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.
Between Before and After is a touching story of believing in the miracles of everyday life and forgiving yourself for the mistakes of your past. The story alternates between 1955 and 1918 to the early 20’s. When Molly discovers that her mother has a secret in her past that might ruin their family’s happiness, she’s determined to find out what it is. In the meantime, her uncle is being investigated by the church because he performed a miracle, and the turmoil and disbelief that this sparks turns their life even more upside down. The book follows Molly in her quest to learn the truth and flashes back to Molly’s mother’s life as a struggling orphan after the Spanish flu of 1918. I’ll confess that I’d unraveled the mystery of her mother’s past pretty much right from the start, but I still enjoyed reading Molly’s discoveries and finding out how it all unfolded. McQuerry puts her characters through a lot, but the overall message is definitely one of hope and healing.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Maureen was the McAuliffe Fellow for WA State in 2000. She is a poet, novelist and teacher and enjoys presenting to students and adults. Maureen works with teachers to tailor workshops to specific writing goals. She is also a frequent presenter at writing conferences.
Maureen Doyle McQuerry’s Top Ten Addictions
1. Molly Moon’s Vegan Coconut Chocolate Chunk ice cream in Seattle and Brain Freeze coconut in Spokane
I’m not vegan but I am lactose intolerant. These two ice creams are the best I’ve had anywhere. They’re both made with coconut milk and oh so creamy! Whenever I’m in Seattle or Spokane, I have some!
2. Barre Class
I’m addicted to this form of exercise. Really, all exercise is pretty great, but it takes a lot to make me miss this class. Maybe its because it reminds me of my old ballet classes, maybe I just like to work hard enough to make my legs shake.
3. Arthur Rackham art
I discovered Arthur Rackham’s illustrations when I was in high school. If any human has ever trafficked with the faeries, it’s Arthur Rackham. His watercolors inhabit the world of my imagination. He captures the way I see trees. He gives me wonder.
4. My purple leather jacket
It’s old now and wearing through on the sleeves. But really, what else is there to say, but purple leather jacket.
5. British mystery novels
I love me a good mystery and the ones I love best are British. It all started with Sherlock Holmes for me and all that atmospheric Victorian London fog.
6. Dark chocolate
Seventy percent or higher. I like it in my coffee. I like it as a snack. I like it drizzled over ice cream.
7. The Inklings
Once there was a critique group and the members were wizards. C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkein, Charles Williams, and occasionally that great lady of letters Dorothy Sayers made an appearance. I am obsessed with her Peter Whimsey novels. I went to Oxford. I sat at their table in the Bird and Baby.
When I was little I read books in trees. Our house is surrounded by 100 Carolina poplars and it takes two people to reach around their trunks. I have always felt that there is something magical about trees. The ancient Irish Ogham alphabet was called the tree alphabet and each letter stood for a tree.
9. The Ocean
I grew up 30 minutes from Santa Cruz CA, and some of my happiest memories were on the pocket-sized beaches between Santa Cruz and San Francisco. Those are not the sunny SoCal beaches. Those are not for me. I love the wild ocean. I love the smell of seaweed and salt and creosote. I like to hear the waves in my sleep.
10. My friends
You know the kind. The ones who truly get you, who are on the journey, who make the world a better place just by being there. Some of my friends are characters in books, some are real and a few have four legs.
Prize: 5 Finished Copies of Between Before & After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry + Signed Bookplates (USA only)