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)
It’s sad that it’s predictable, but this sounds like a “me” book. I love historical fiction and family secrets. Great review!
It was more about the story behind HOW things came about than the actual secret (at least for me).
Random question, but is Molly the one having sex at the age of 14? I saw the warning and immediately wondered about that. :/
This was hard because even just that content rating is a bit of a spoiler, but I err on the side of giving it because I know that some people specifically want to know what content is involved. It’s not Molly, but it is a young character (I think she was 15, if I’m remembering correctly). It’s a fade to black scene and there are ramifications, but if that’s a dealbreaker for you, this book isn’t for you. Feel free to email me if you want more details!
I have an idea about her mother’s secret just reading the description, and I was about to type it here, but thought I shouldn’t put a possible spoiler in the comments. Wonderful review, Nicole! 🙂
Yeah, I figured it out within the first few pages, but I didn’t feel like that ruined anything. (Feel free to email me if you want confirmation. 🙂 )
That’s a shame that some bits of it were predictable but the story still sounds pretty interesting, especially those family secrets.
Family secrets are always intriguing.
I haven’t heard of this one, but I added it to my TBR anyways. I hate that some of the story was predictable, but sometimes I can overlook that if everything else is enjoyable. I’ll give it a shot, but might wait to see if there’s an audio version.
Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? ?
One of my other commenters mentioned that she has the audiobook. I know Hoopla often has Blink audiobooks if you have access to that–you might want to check it out.
Awesome — thanks!
Bummer about the predictability, because you kind of had me at the time period- I LOVE reading about the late 1910s-20s for some reason. Especially the Spanish Influenza which again, is a REALLY weird thing to enjoy? But alas. Sounds pretty decent either way! Glad it was at least enjoyable!
Yeah, I was a little surprised to see this billed as a mystery because the final outcome didn’t feel all that surprising (though some of the details certainly were). But I didn’t mind it because I wasn’t really thinking of it as a mystery as I read it. It seemed more like a story exploring how a teenage girl comes to understand her mother and why she is the way she is (not only in a bad way). The Spanish flu era was a huge part of the story, and stories of her own family’s experiences during that time are what inspired the author to write it (she tells us in the author’s notes).
I like reading historical fictions especially those time periods or events I’m not very familiar with. And I also love your description for this “believing in the miracles of everyday life and forgiving yourself for the mistakes of your past”. I’m okay with predictable mysteries as along as they’re still presented well 🙂 I’ll probably keep my eyes out for this one although not exactly at the top of my list 🙂
Also, I love that cover!
Yes, I think the tour company (and, I’m assuming, the publisher) called this a “mystery” but I didn’t think of it that way. It was more of an unraveling the past sort of story. It didn’t matter that I figured out the basics of what happened because the story was more about HOW it all happened.
Predictable doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can seem snuggling up with your favorite blankie on a cold day.
Yes, I don’t mind being able to predict what’s going to happen as long as I still enjoy the journey.
I have this one waiting for me on audio. So glad you enjoyed it. I hope to get to it real soon.
Hoopla seems to have most of these Blink YA books, so I’ve listened to a lot of them via audio too. I’m listening to The Color of Lies right now.
Ah…this is one of those instances wherein the cover draws me in, but the description encourages me to bite. I think it’s the idea of it that I like, and that it reminds me a bit of how I felt in my youth.
It’s always really helpful when you have a personal connection to the concept of a book.
I’ve been seeing reviews around for this one a lot especially as it has recently released. I am so glad you were able to really enjoy the book and the message sounds like such a good one as well. I love the cover too <3
And yay for British mystery novels being on the top ten list ^.^
I haven’t read any British mysteries, but I’m glad you share McQueery’s love for them. It’s always fun when you find something like that in common.