the question

When we love someone, how well do we really know them, and how much are we willing to go through to stay together?

In the tightly wound yet sprawling Ask Again, Yes, Mary Beth Keane explores family dynamics through the lens of this question, fearlessly examining the fine points of commitment.

Rookie New York City police officers Brian and Francis didn’t intend to buy houses next door to each other in a sleepy Connecticut suburb, but they did. As their families grow and they raise their children, their lives are upended by tragedy.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but the author tells an incredibly beautiful story. As the tale progresses, we read about how some individuals won’t permit their hearts to harden to the world in the face of tough times.

While I read about the Gleason and Stanhope families, I realized the delicate manner in which Mary Beth Keane treated her characters and their lives reminded me of Jodi Picoult. The difference was that Keane didn’t smack you in the face with morality in a book that you knew, going on, would challenge you — such as one with a topic like a school shooting or an attack at an abortion clinic. Instead, Keane’s questions rise like smoke, or the heat of the proverbial water the poor frog is stuck in. As you read about one unthinkable situation and then many normal challenges that families face every day, you are struck with the cost of love… as well as the return on investment.

I really, really enjoyed this book. It surprised me in many places, including the overall depth which which the characters are explored. Peter, the boy next door, was fascinating to me, as were both of the police officer’s wives. The ending was beautiful, and overall I highly recommend it the next time you’re in the mood for an absorbing fiction book.

Published by elleebeee

smiles. sarcasm. Springsteen.

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