Before and Again: A Novel

Before and Again: A Novel

by Barbara Delinsky

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Overview

Before and Again: A Novel by Barbara Delinsky

From Barbara Delinsky, the New York Times bestselling author of Blueprints and Sweet Salt Air, a brand-new novel about a woman in hiding finding the courage to face the world again.

Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment but the resulting collision was enough to rob her not only of her beloved daughter but ultimately of her marriage, family, and friends—and thanks to the nonstop media coverage, even her privacy. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog. She’s thankful for the new friends she’s made—though she can’t risk telling them too much. And she takes satisfaction in working as a makeup artist at the luxurious local spa, helping clients hide the visible outward signs of their weariness, illnesses, and injuries. Covering up scars is a skill she has mastered.

Her only goal is to stay under the radar and make it through her remaining probation. But she isn’t the only one in this peaceful town with secrets. When a friend’s teenage son is thrust into the national spotlight, accused of hacking a powerful man’s Twitter account, Maggie is torn between pulling away and protecting herself—or stepping into the glare to be at their side. As the stunning truth behind their case is slowly revealed, Maggie’s own carefully constructed story begins to unravel as well. She knows all too well that what we need from each other in this difficult world is comfort. But to provide it, sometimes we need to travel far outside our comfort zones.

From a multimillion-selling master of women’s fiction, Before and Again is a story of the relationships we find ourselves in—mothers and daughters, spouses and siblings, true companions and fair-weather friends—and what kind of sacrifices we are or aren’t willing to make to sustain them through good times and bad.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250119490
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 06/26/2018
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 5,754
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

BARBARA DELINSKY is the author of more than twenty New York Times bestselling books. She has been published in twenty-eight languages worldwide. A lifelong New Englander, Delinsky earned a B.A. in psychology at Tufts University and an M.A. in sociology at Boston College. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, more books than she'll ever be able to read, two tennis racquets, and enough electronic devices to keep in close touch with her children and their families.

Hometown:

Newton, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

August 9, 1945

Place of Birth:

Boston, Massachusetts

Education:

B.A. in Psychology, Tufts University, 1967; M.A. in Sociology, Boston College, 1969

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The trouble with waking up in the morning is that you look like who you are. That's great if you like who you are, but not so great if you don't.

I don't. My face is pale and my eyes haunted. Five years have passed since the accident, but after a night with my head on the same plane as my heart, the scar on my forehead is a bright red. At least, it looks that way to me. When I touch it, I find a smooth ridge, but my fingertips remember the earlier roughness. And then there's the picture taped inside the medicine chest, where I'm sure to see it when I reach for toothpaste.

Mug shots are never pretty. Heartache is written all over mine. Size-wise, the print is small enough, but that doesn't dilute its impact. It's a reminder of what I did, a little dose of daily punishment.

Duly tweaked this Thursday morning, I closed the medicine chest and leaned into the mirror. I dabbed a long-wearing concealer over the scar and under my eyes once, twice, then a third time because last night was a bad one. After setting it with a breath of powder, I applied foundation, then a blusher. Both were creams, applied with a sponge. Moving up, I turned haunted eyes into stylishly smoky ones by skimming a gel pencil along both waterlines, smudging shadow into the corners, and separating my lashes with mascara.

Satisfied, I straightened and stood back, brushed my hair, fluffed my bangs. Then, as I did each day, I turned away from the mirror wearing my new face and tried to forget the old one. Was this honest? No. But it was the only way I could survive, and survival was key.

* * *

This day, the rising March sun was paper thin but promising. I felt no threat, no premonition, not the slightest sense of unease as I coasted down Pepin Hill over frozen ruts and cruised toward the center of town. After crossing the river, I passed the elegant Federal-style homes of the town founders and turned left where the road I was on ended and South Main began.

The usual string of cars lined the block fronting Rasher and Yolk. Some were pickups with mudstained skirts that labeled them locals. Others were clean SUVs with New York plates, but with the state line only thirty miles away, I thought nothing of it. Rasher and Yolk served the best breakfasts around. Every New Yorker who knew Devon knew that.

Warmed by omelet thoughts, I continued south for two more blocks before turning left toward the river again. The pottery studio was in a cavernous mill that had straddled it for a century. Like the Inn upstream, the mill had endured its share of Vermont blizzards and the ensuing spring floods. The fact that the old mill was built of wood, rather than the Inn's stone, made its survival all the more magical. Not even the hurricane that had washed out so much else on the river two Septembers before had harmed the mill's ancient oak.

I found this inspiring. To live through trauma and thrive? That was my goal.

The pottery studio did thrive. I was one of a dozen sculptors here today, and it was barely eight in the morning. Half were students, in town for a week of clay immersion that was offered by the studio's owner in partnership with the Inn. The rest were experienced artists, drawn to Devon for its appreciation of fine craft. Some were throwing pitchers and pots to be sold at the studio store in town. Since moving to Devon four years ago, I had sold things there myself. None were billed as Mackenzie Cooper art, and I deliberately tried not to replicate that style. Little bits slipped; I couldn't fully escape myself. But my current work was more subtle than spirited, and I never sculpted the family groups for which I had been known. Understatement was what my life in Devon was about. I was happy to fly under the radar.

Devon was a perfect place for that. A small town in south-central Vermont, it was known for upscale art galleries, VIP sightings, and the Spa's signature hot stone massage. Though the best-worn path to town was from Manhattan, more distant visitors came to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. All were welcome. Guests kept the town afloat.

How to tell a guest from a predator? Should a clean SUV outside Rasher and Yolk have caused suspicion? Or a lone tourist wandering on South Main taking pictures with his phone have raised a red flag?

Not in Devon. We were definitely used to strangers coming and going.

Buy a house in our midst, though, and we were cautious. It had been months before the wariness that met me when I first came faded — and that quickly, only because I had done repeated makeup applications for the library trustee chair, the Town Manager, and the head of the Garden Club. These people had bonded with me. The fact of my bare hands on their skin was conducive to that, but the emotional clinched it. A makeup artist was like a therapist, listening quietly to a client who arrived barefaced, with defenses down and a need to vent.

I knew about venting to a therapist, and I could certainly relate to wanting to feel better about oneself. What I loved most about my job was that I could make it happen for others, if only until bedtime, when the new face washed off.

So I listened. I didn't offer opinions beyond whether to use corrector or concealer, blusher or bronzer, matte shadow or glitter, and I never groaned, sighed, or frowned in response to what was shared with me. Hell, who was I to judge?

I also understood vanity. As far from the mainstream as Devon was, there were occasions when a woman wanted to look her best. Most of us had spent time in the city. We appreciated fine makeup, right along with craft beer, high-tech down jackets, and good cell phone reception.

The pottery studio was an exception to the last. Cell phones were useless within its wood walls. Potters knew they were leaving the world behind when they came here. For me, that was part of the appeal.

I had used the studio enough to be known by the local potting community, which knew me as Maggie Reid, not the full Margaret Mackenzie Reid, certainly not Mackenzie Cooper. Mackenzie was the artist, the wife of a venture capitalist, the mother. Maggie was just Maggie. Her hair was a deeper auburn than Mackenzie's had been and was colored at the roots to hide new wisps of gray. She used makeup to soften grief lines and bangs to hide her scar. Wearing base layers of wool under a sweater and jeans, a voluminous scarf, and fleece-lined boots, she was more concerned with warmth than style. She also weighed ten pounds more now than when she had been in the news.

She? Me. I could blame being thin on nerves, but even before the accident, I had been that way. It was the look of the elite, to which, for a time, my ex-husband and I had belonged. I had put all that behind, as well.

"Hey, Maggie," one of the regulars called in greeting as I headed for the supply bins.

I smiled and waved but didn't stop. Many of us were here before going to other jobs, which meant time was short. Besides, my need today was less for people than for clay.

Clay was in my blood, the smell of it alone a balm. Granted, March meant mud season, which lent an earthiness to the entire town. But potting clay was earthy in a different way. It didn't spatter my truck or cause ruts deep enough to make my tires spin climbing up to my cabin each night. Potting clay held promise. A world of wonder could come in a few hands-on minutes, and I had spent far more than that in my thirty-eight years. I'd been first drawn to clay when I was eight. By the time I was fifteen, it had become a passion, and by twenty-two, I was sculpting full time. By twenty-eight, I was married to a man who not only had faith in my work but a growing business network. An agent resulted, and my career took off.

If that sounds seamless, it's misleading. My personal history reads like a timeline in which each phase is separate and distinct. There were the growing-up years with my family, the eight years of college and beyond studying art, the seven years I was with Edward, the year in which I had been alone in hell, and now, the four in Devon. I had friends here, but none, save one, knew of those other lives. Clay did. For me, it was the single entity linking present to past — truly, the only one I could bear.

I deliberately chose a workbench apart from the others. The sandy burr of the potter's wheel soothed me when I worked, but not so human voices. I wanted nothing to come between my focus and the clay.

Not that focus was necessary to decide what to make. Need determined that, and today I needed a teapot. I had known it the instant I saw honey scones on my Facebook feed.

As bakeries went, The Buttered Scone was fabled in Connecticut. Its daily specials varied, but its honey scones were the best. They were simple and dense, but just flaky enough, moist enough, sweet enough to make you weep.

I had grown up on them. My mother was The Buttered Scone, and she knew I loved her honeys. I often wondered if she thought of me now when she featured them. I had posted a comment on her site this morning, then deleted it before she could.

I might not be having a honey scone today, but I could make a teapot. They're actually a challenge. There is an element of engineering in creating one that can pour without spilling. The spout has to be mounted at just the right height and angled just so, the rim wide enough to allow for washing but not so wide that water leaks out when it reaches the spout. I know these things, because I have only made, what, a gazillion teapots? Today, my inspiration is a honey scone. Last week, it was a green cupcake with a sugar leprechaun crouched on the top.

My mother was an artist, though she would never call herself that. Art was an abstract concept, and Margaret McGowan Reid saw life in absolutes. She baked sweets, she would say. She rented a commercial kitchen and employed ten people. Like the rosary beads always on her person, these were physical things.

So was a teapot.

Dipping my fingers in water, I formed a cylinder. The clay was cool under my hands, but pliable. I widened my cylinder as the wheel spun it smooth, then reached in and bowed the inside. Dipping again, I sped the wheel a tad and narrowed the top on a whim, loving the eloquent irony of a whistle-hole crown on a round little belly. Of course, no infuser would fit through what I'd made. Wetting my fingers again, I widened back the collar, then, using my forefingers, shaped the rim. The lid would sit here, larger or smaller. I couldn't decide which. First, I made it too wide, and it looked positively stocky at the top of the pot. Then it was too narrow, too spindly. In the process of adjusting it, though, something happened that I liked. My thumbs had nicked notches that undulated around the top of the pot.

Letting the wheel slow to a stop, I smiled and sat back. I often carved designs into the bellies of my pots, sometimes combing through the wet slip with my fingers, sometimes with tools. I wasn't one for precise symmetry, far preferring an irregularity that made each piece one-of-akind, but what intrigued me most was texture. Using any number of techniques, I could add clay or shave it off, shape it, carve it, or glaze it to create a texture with which the user identified. Teapots could be whimsical, joyful, solemn, serious, businesslike, or practical.

It was rather like decorating a cake. At least, to me, it was. My mother had first built her business decorating cakes. I liked to think we were connected this way.

Covering the body with plastic to keep it moist, I fashioned a spout, positioned it, and, after boring a dozen holes in the proper spot, scored it and slurried it to the body. The lid came next. I had just enough time to put a little bee knob on the top — pure whimsy, with honey scones — before setting the pot to dry and cleaning up.

I took extra care with my hands. I would wash them again once I reached the Spa, but clay there would clog the pipes. Here we had two sinks, one to catch clay from the first wash, and a second for actual cleaning. I didn't skimp on either. Once dry, even a trace of clay would be gritty against the human face, and I had three makeup sessions booked for today.

Hands clean, parka zipped, I stopped only to give Kevin McKay a hug. Kevin owned the studio and, being soft-spoken, understanding, and gay, was as close to a boyfriend as I allowed. Turning away from the student he was helping, he held his clay-wet hands off for an arms-only squeeze. "Another teapot?" he whispered and let his raised brows ask the follow-up.

Kevin knew me well. "Honey scones," I whispered back and, drawing away to leave that thought here with my teapot, I made for the door.

The stairwell leading to the street was cold, the March sun still too weak to chase off winter's chill. I pulled on wool gloves and, once outside, climbed up into my truck without looking at the muck that spattered its side. Going through the car wash during mud season — like scrubbing the soles of my boots every night — was futile. I had learned not to make the effort. Besides, mud held a certain cachet. It gave me a sense of belonging. Every other local car looked like mine. Not that there were many right now. I saw several more New York plates and one each from Washington, DC, and Connecticut. Given the nature of Devon, this was normal.

I drove slowly past stores that were chicly appointed, their goods in artful window displays, their names etched in gold across handsome headers of Vermont granite. They were open now, entertaining early weekend visitors. Bookstore, coffee shop, boutiques — all were doing a comfortable business, to judge from the movement beyond those window displays. Same with two art galleries and a silversmith's shop. And the studio store? Some of the craftspeople who sold there relied on their earnings to live, and although I did not, the artist in me had enough of an ego left to like checking it out.

But I was heading north. The studio store was on Cedar, which came in from the east as I had earlier. Since I had a booking at noon, I had to go straight now to the Inn. That meant continuing for another mile on the Blue Highway, a two-lane road named after the river it followed.

First, though, came the small roundabout at the spot where South Main and Cedar met the Blue. At its heart was a war memorial initially built for the Green Mountain Boys who died in the Revolutionary War. It was an obelisk whose stone was updated too often for comfort, most recently to mark the death of a local Marine in Afghanistan. I hadn't known him; he left town before I arrived. That made it easier for me to focus on the river birch, which was finally — exciting! — looking more alive at the obelisk's shoulder. Maybe it was my imagination, born of a need for spring, but the curl of its bark was looser, the tiny buds on its branches fuller, and while it would be a while yet before leaves appeared, these signs said they would. There were times in the dead of winter when that was in doubt.

Ah, and there was Officer Gill, parked as always in his black-and-white SUV at the spot where the three roads met. When I first came to town, I was convinced my probation officer had sent him to monitor me. In time, I realized he was watching everyone. Well, not always watching. He was usually playing Solitaire on his phone, but he didn't need his eyes to know who was out and about. For Officer Gill, it was all about sound. Keeping a window cracked, he listened. He could recognize the locals by ear. Once he had come to know the sound of my truck, he raised a hand in greeting without bothering to look.

In hindsight, perhaps he should have. Perhaps he should have wondered about those people in parkas and jeans who were wandering a little too casually around town with neither partners nor kids. Officer Gill knew that someone was hacking into school computers. The whole department did. But they had no clue how far the problem had spread until an hour before the Feds went public with it — though, in fairness, those agents walking our streets made no sounds that Officer Gill would hear.

Should I have noticed them? For all my usual vigilance, either I was too focused that morning on transitioning from clay to makeup, or I had grown complacent, in which case I was as guilty as Officer Gill. Not that either of us could have done anything had we known. When it came to the media, we were powerless.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Before and Again"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Delinsky.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Before and Again 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky St Martin’s Press Women’s fiction, digital ARC June 2018 Thank you to St Martin’s Press/NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this digital ARC. Sometimes life leads in directions that can’t be predicted. This was certainly true for Mackenzie Cooper, a dedicated mother, wife and sculptor. When she is held responsible for a fatal car accident which kills her young daughter, Mackenzie’s life is forever. The accident destroyed her self esteem, her career, her marriage and relationships with family and friends. changed. Unable to forgive herself and the the aftermath that follows, she moves to Vermont to reinvent herself. In Vermont, Maggie Reid is able to live a simple life in Devon where the residents all seem to have their own reasons for moving to this quaint town. Trying to maintain a low profile until her probation is complete is a mandatory requirement. Michael Shanahan, her probation officer, makes frequent visits to ensure she maintains compliance. She manages to keep her past a secret working as a makeup artist at an upscale spa. The spa becomes a refuge for the broken hearted who work through their grieve working at the spa. Maggie forms many close relationships which don’t require reliving the past. Maggie befriends Grace who has moved there as a massage therapist with her teenage son, Chris who is eventually accused of a major hacking incident. This brings a media spotlight that slowly unravels a town which values their privacy. It seems Maggie is not the only resident with a past she’d rather forget. Risking her own probation, Maggie continues to support her friend while trying to avoid the media attention. This novel explores how it’s possible to find redemption and reconciliation with the past. Before one can truly move forward it is important to reconcile with the past, again. This necessary experience can allow healing and resolution of guilt which ultimately prevents living one’s best life. Another brilliant novel by a beloved author with complex characters and rich storyline.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautifully written story about mother's love, overcoming tragedy, and the strength of friendship - one of Ms Delinsky's best
Anonymous 7 months ago
I have been reading her books for many years and this is one of her best
PNWBookworm 7 months ago
This book is a heart breaking tale that blew me away. I have read many of Delinsky’s books and they are all moving and emotional and this one was no different. I immediately connected with the main character and felt for her situation. There were so many different emotions I went through while reading this and it made the book one that I couldn’t put down. The book is character driven and shows up how you can suffer a catastrophic loss and rebuild your life one small step at a time. The story is also full of twists and turns to keep you on your toes. I highly recommend adding this book to your summer reading list, you will not regret it!
Debi_2014andBeyond 9 days ago
I have read many Barbara Delinsky books over the years so when I saw this book on NetGalley I requested it. Maggie Reid (formerly known as Mackenzie Cooper) lost everything in an accident and this is the story of how she tried to rebuild her life moving forward, but finds herself swept back into her old life. This is a story of redemption and finding peace. The story also shows readers how being honest and sharing your truth helps you find peace in the end. Before and Again was full of emotion and the characters were well written and realistic. I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I really did! Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for and honest review.
Librarypage_Paralegal1 9 days ago
I loved this book and found it hard to put it down!
SL22268 17 days ago
Thanks so much to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to review this book. Great book! The book starts out as a heartbroken mother (Maggie, then Mackenzie) loses her child through an unfortunate mistake on her part. Fast forward and she is living in a new town and trying to start over. Her best friend ends up having a crisis of her own and it makes Maggie look at her own life and see how things might have been. Through persistence and forgiveness - to others and herself - she finds happiness again. I really loved this book!
TBRetc 4 months ago
I have complicated feelings about this book. I thought it had a fantastic premise- Mackenzie Cooper is publicly shamed for having taken her eyes off the road for a minute to check her GPS. Her 5 year old daughter is killed, as was the other driver, and her name was dragged through the mud. So much so that her name is now synonymous with distracted driving and the Mackenzie Cooper law is created. She loses everything- her child, her husband Edward, and reputation and moves to Devon, a small town in Connecticut to start over. She's working as an artist and a makeup artist and things are going well, until she sees her ex-husband in town. He, along with her best friend's son who just got into major, public, trouble, threaten to destroy everything she's worked to rebuild. I liked Mackenzie (Maggie). She was an everyday person who was facing the impossible. This story was very character driven and I feel like we got to know Mackenzie well. Her decisions sometimes irritated me (some decisions that seem obvious to the reader take her for-ev-er to realize) but I walked away being invested into her story. The character that I didn't feel invested in was Grace. Grace is Mackenzie's best friend and the mother of the son who has been accused of hacking. The plot of the story hinges on her being this damaged yet lovable character, but I didn't get any of that from her. We eventually find out why she comes across as erratic and what happened in her life before Devon, but that comes so late into the book it felt rushed and thrown in as an afterthought. My biggest problem with this book was that it was LONG. Over 400 pages, and there is not that much going on. The author takes her time going places and adds a ton of information that I didn't think was necessary to the characters or the plot. In one section, it took us 3 pages for Mackenzie to travel to the post office. In another we meet a character from Mackenzie's past and talk about his clothing for two pages. It does give you a very vivid picture of the town of Devon and its residents, but in places I found myself fighting the temptation to skim. What dialogue there was was realistic, but there were a lot of internal musings in between. I debated putting the book down about 30% in, but I found I was too interested in knowing how things were going to work out for Grace's son and with Mackenzie and Edward to let go. Their relationship was what saved the book for me. Overall, 3/5.
TBRetc 4 months ago
I have complicated feelings about this book. I thought it had a fantastic premise- Mackenzie Cooper is publicly shamed for having taken her eyes off the road for a minute to check her GPS. Her 5 year old daughter is killed, as was the other driver, and her name was dragged through the mud. So much so that her name is now synonymous with distracted driving and the Mackenzie Cooper law is created. She loses everything- her child, her husband Edward, and reputation and moves to Devon, a small town in Connecticut to start over. She's working as an artist and a makeup artist and things are going well, until she sees her ex-husband in town. He, along with her best friend's son who just got into major, public, trouble, threaten to destroy everything she's worked to rebuild. I liked Mackenzie (Maggie). She was an everyday person who was facing the impossible. This story was very character driven and I feel like we got to know Mackenzie well. Her decisions sometimes irritated me (some decisions that seem obvious to the reader take her for-ev-er to realize) but I walked away being invested into her story. The character that I didn't feel invested in was Grace. Grace is Mackenzie's best friend and the mother of the son who has been accused of hacking. The plot of the story hinges on her being this damaged yet lovable character, but I didn't get any of that from her. We eventually find out why she comes across as erratic and what happened in her life before Devon, but that comes so late into the book it felt rushed and thrown in as an afterthought. My biggest problem with this book was that it was LONG. Over 400 pages, and there is not that much going on. The author takes her time going places and adds a ton of information that I didn't think was necessary to the characters or the plot. In one section, it took us 3 pages for Mackenzie to travel to the post office. In another we meet a character from Mackenzie's past and talk about his clothing for two pages. It does give you a very vivid picture of the town of Devon and its residents, but in places I found myself fighting the temptation to skim. What dialogue there was was realistic, but there were a lot of internal musings in between. I debated putting the book down about 30% in, but I found I was too interested in knowing how things were going to work out for Grace's son and with Mackenzie and Edward to let go. Their relationship was what saved the book for me. Overall, 3/5.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Great summer read!
Anonymous 5 months ago
I have always loved this author's books. This one not so much. Page after page about the most mudane things. This author is so much better than this!
Anonymous 5 months ago
We all have regrets: the terrible relationship, bad career choice, wrong move at the wrong time. However, some of us have done things that destroy lives, our own and others. The destruction is epic, unbelievable, and total. What do we do next? If you’re Maggie in Barbara Delinsky’s Before and Again, you reinvent yourself in a new place where no one knows you as Mackenzie Cooper, the woman and mother who did the unthinkable. There are no accusations, no sidelong glances, whispers as you leave the room. You give your best, share aspects of your talent with this new world, having abandoned the work that defined you, the life that you made that left destruction, regret, bitter anger in its wake. Maggie lives with a box of regrets tucked under her bed in her new house with her cats and a dog, the only ones she lives with now. She is happy enough, even with the daily reminders of who she once was and what she did. Her life is quiet now, with a few close friends, her job as make-up artist, her passion for pottery. She is known for being kind, generous, loyal. With her practical jeans, flannel, and boots, it would be tough to imagine her as the beautiful woman living a privileged, secure life, adored wife with 5 year old daughter, thriving art career, and big house. In this new version of her life, Maggie is a make-up artist, throws pottery, and is kind, generous, thoughtful, a wonderful friend. A moment’s distraction destroyed her previous life, broke her heart and every relationship she had, left her broken with nowhere to turn; she is determined to keep her life on an even keel even if she wants more. This is where the story begins, with Maggie once Mackenzie living in her safe enclave five years after unthinkable. More unthinkable arrives in her town, from her friend’s own tragedy that threatens to expose Maggie’s hard-won security to the ex-husband creating his own new life, others from the past who turn up again. While Delinsky’s story explores regret, about integrating the past into the present, it is ultimately about love. Her story is about all love: lovers, parents, friends, and love for your own life, how you define yourself and live what is most important to you. I loved living in this small town in Vermont, watching the inevitable revelations unwind. Delinsky is a master at parsing the particulars, from the legal system to the world of work. Where she is brilliant is in exploring how we create and shape the stories of who we are to live — and what happens when we change our stories to embrace who we are right now with all we have experienced and learned. If it seems that I am an avid fan, it’s because I am. For years, I have admired Delinsky’s work for its unflinching, compassionate, and wise stories. The characters feel like people I know. I look forward to seeing them, to hearing what they have to say — and that statement is not an exaggeration or a metaphor. Delinsky writes real, writes real people in real places, grounds them in a time and a place and a situation. I’m there for the entire ride from here to what comes next. This is a story that challenges — and that is why I put it down the first time that I started reading it. Mackenzie is driving her child to a playdate in a remote area with no signs, no way to tell where they are since there is no GPS, no signal so she can call for help. I’ve lived that situation. Delinsky described how it felt when I first moved to Connecticut, no child in the backseat, but the crushing pres
Selena 5 months ago
I received a free e-copy of Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky from NetGalley for my honest review. A powerful and heartfelt story of a woman, (Maggie) who has a happy life, wonderful home, a handsome husband (Ned) and beautiful child. In one quick moment, while driving, gets distracted and looses what is most precious to any parent. Maggie's life changed in so many ways after that day. She had to live with the guilt of the loss, her shattered marriage, and the hate and anger of her family and even her friends. My heart ached with sorrow for all Maggie went through. She starts her life over in another town where only one person knows her story. Then one day her Ex-husband and brother move into her town and she has to face all of her fears head on. Maggie's before story, although so horrifically sad, gets to have an again story which can be beautiful and wonderful if she could only forgive herself. Beautifully and powerfully written. 5 Stars.
txjewkat 5 months ago
Outstanding. If you aren’t a fan of Barbara Delinsky you will be. The best she has written and she has written fantastic books. “Before and Again” is very relatable. The life of Maggie before an automobile accident and again after. All actions have consequences. It doesn’t have to be an automobile accident, it could be any action one makes which turns the direction one goes. Everyone has a past, a present and future. I had to make it an all day and night read. I couldn’t put it down. Bravo to Ms. Delinsky for bringing her best to us.
MTCKMason 6 months ago
In "Before and Again," Barbara Delinsky brings us to the town of Devon, Vermont and the lives of the people in it. Here you will meet local residents and the others, or those who came to escape their pasts and reinvent themselves. Makeup artist Maggie Reid lives a quiet life used to the routine she has set for herself. All of this changes when massage therapist and friend Grace Emory receives a frantic call about her son Chris. When her past shows up and starts to invade her present, Maggie must decide how she will go forward and who she ultimately wants to be in life. Barbara Delinsky shares a story with universal themes of love, friendship, family, and forgiveness and how fragile and exposed a person feels when their whole world crumbles and they are left with nothing. I enjoyed the story lines between Maggie and those she came in contact with in Devon and learning about its residents. I was excited to read about how the issues that came up would be resolved. I found it frustrating at times when Maggie held onto her self doubt tightly and tried to keep the past exactly in the past jeopardizing the possibility of leading a truly happy and fulfilling life.
UpAllNightBB 6 months ago
Before and Again by Barbara Delinksy was a heart wrenching, soul crushing life changer that left my chest aching in all the right ways. Imagine you take your eyes off the road for just a moment and your entire life is turned upside down. That’s what happens to Mackenzie. The life she had cannot be put back together so she runs away from what she knows to try and rebuild a new existence where no one recognizes her. Her marriage is over and her family doesn’t speak to her, so she finds a small town and makes new friends under the name Maggie, with other like-minded people who prefer to live under the radar for one reason or another. Maggie spends her time working as a makeup artist by day and dabbling in pottery occasionally on the side, which was how she used to make a living before her past life came tragically crashing down. Her newly created life was going really well until a friend’s son is accused of hacking into a high profile Twitter account and everyone’s small town lives become public. As Maggie is thrown back into the public spotlight, she fears her past may come back to haunt her after all these years in hiding. Can Maggie continue to support her friend while keeping her true identity hidden? This book dug deep, provoking a gamut of feelings including sadness, loss, love, forgiveness and survival. There was a beautiful thread of hope woven throughout the story that kept Maggie holding on throughout the struggles, pain and guilt that she carried. She proves that if you persevere there is hope for those who are willing to give life a second chance. In addition to all the feels be ready for few unexpected twists that will make you gasp. The only downfall of this story was that parts of it seemed to drag just a little. It is well written and a great storyline, but I had to push through a few parts that were a little slow going. That said, this is a box of tissue kind of book so get ready to experience a heartbreaking emotional read with this one.
Bookladye 7 months ago
Spectacular! In Before and Again, Barbara Delinsky has gifted her readers with a novel rich in characters and plot. The story’s winter setting in Vermont was perfect for the storyline. I regretted getting to the end of this book. Hated that the book was at it’s end.
mweinreich 7 months ago
5 emotional heart breaking stars A split second can change your life. A glance away can be the moment when life does change. A heart refusing to heal can end a marriage. ....and guilt filling every portion of one's body can make life an unending torture. Mackenzie Cooper has lost everything, a beloved daughter, a husband she loved, a mother who blames her, and the ability to forgive herself. For a moment in time she took her eyes off the road and a horrible collision happened, one that took the life of her child and the life she had grown accustomed to. She feels she is a outcast in her community as friends disappear, her mother shuns her blaming Mackenzie not only for the death of her grandchild but also for the death of her husband. Mackenzie's marriage falls apart to Edward as so many marriages do after the loss of a child. How can her life continue in this place where everything is a memory and all reminds her of what use to be? Mackenzie moves away to a small town in Vermont where she buries the past and learns to move forward on her own. She acquires good friends, a job she loves, pursues her artistic passion and while not happy seems content. Then all that changes when a friend's son does something which will probably propel Mackenzie into the world she is so afraid to find herself in once again. This story was told with much compassion and the spirit of how we can move forward and find meaning in both the life that has been lost as well as in our own selves. It was a poignant story that showed so well what it is like to lose a child and live a life in which guilt is ever present. Ms Delinsky did a wonderful job making all of her characters so vivid and real. As Ronald Reagan said, "When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn't a word to describe them."
bookaholique 7 months ago
3.5 I don't know many adults who are without a past regret that they dwell on - spend time thinking "what if" or "if only". Such is the case for Mackenzie Cooper. One little slip up resulted in a life changing event. It ruined her marriage and caused her to move to a new town under a different name. When a friend faces a life challenge, Mackenzie has to decided if she wants to help, even if it means bringing her past into the present and possible disrupting the nice little life she has made for herself. This was a nice story about forgiving yourself, friendship and inner strength. The author created some very realistic characters that I enjoyed spending time with. This was my first read from Ms. Delinsky and I would like to check out some of her other books. I received this from St. Martin's Press via Netgalley.
Fredreeca2001 7 months ago
It has been a few years since I have read Barbara Delinsky. But, I am glad I picked her back up. This story is in true Delinsky form. Great characters with a great story about heartbreak and healing are trademarks for Delinsky. I expericed a wonderful connection with Maggie. She is so broken and yet she has created a new world for herself. See, Maggie was in an accident a few years ago and her daughter was killed. Maggie was to blame and she has never forgiven herself.
Maggie is estranged from her family. Her mother and brother refuse to speak to her. And her marriage also fails after the loss of her child. But, just when she thinks she has overcome her past, in walks her brother AND her ex husband. This throws a huge kink in her anonymity. And...the anonymity is a huge part of her new life.
There are several story lines throughout this book. This keeps the reader moving along at a very fast clip. Maggie and Edward are great together. Both are broken and need each other to get through. Then there is Maggie's good friend Grace. Her son has been arrested in a computer hacking scandal. But, Grace is hiding something, something very important.
This novel is a little long. It could have been shortened by a few pages. However, I enjoyed this heartwarming and heart wrenching tale..and yes it is both. This story pulls at your heart and makes you appreciate all you have.
I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley for a honest review.
CecileV 7 months ago
Barbara Delinsky has given us another five-star read in "Before and Again"! Maggie has survived the unimaginable and built a new life for herself that she loves, only to have that life become something she didn't see coming. This must-read story has it all...loss, healing, family, friendships, love, loyalty and forgiveness. I loved it right up until the ending that I was hoping for and I think you will too! Thank you Barbara Delinsky and St. Martin's Press for the ARC in exchange for my honest review! (less)
plynncopley 7 months ago
This story was heartwarming. I ached for Mackensie and the pain of her life. She runs a red light while driving her five year old daughter to a playdate. In a moment, everything changes. She suffers through her actions and the pain they bring not only to her, but to everyone else she loves. Not being able to forgive, she moves away and reinvents herself in another town. Finding healing and anonymity, she forges a new life with her own kind of therapy. But all that is challenged one day when her best friend is thrown into the limelight, which in turn threaten to bring her into the forefront.
ganderson523 7 months ago
Before and Again is a great emotional read that pulls on the heartstrings from the beginning. Mackenzie Cooper has suffered the worst loss that a parent can - the loss of a child. She ran a stop sign that was covered by leaves in a strange location and hit by a car exceeding the speed limit. The tragedy broke up her marriage and caused her to be estranged from her parents and brother. Her father died soon after and her mother blamed her for his death as well. She left her hometown of Boston and wound up in Devon, Vermont with a new name, Maggie Reid, and a new hairstyle. Formerly, a sculptor and now a makeup artist, she has established a new life at the spa associated with the local inn. She does have a friend with a pottery place where she goes to lose herself in clay but only for therapy. She has new friends in a town where others have settled after having a past that they want to forget. But one of her friends, Grace, who is also hiding from a past is now dealing with a teenage son accused of hacking into his school computer system and the computer system at the spa where Maggie and Grace work. This is a federal crime. Part of her punishment for the tragedy that killed her daughter and the other driver is probation and to stay away from felons. Grace's son, if convicted, would be a felon. But Maggie knows what it is like to be alone without the support of friends. And then out of the blue, her ex-husband, Edward (now Ned) Cooper appears as the new inn owner and manager for a group of investors. What was a quiet and rewarding life for Maggie is now one where her face could be in the national media again. She was just getting her life together and now it is in turmoil. But Ned is there to stay with other businesses planned. He has purchased a house. Then her estranged brother, Liam, is there as a new chef working for Ned. Talk about betrayal. I haven't read Barbara Delinksy in years but I was reminded why I used to read her. She has such an amazing ability for creating well developed characters and a scene that are so real that you can place yourself in their shoes. I felt Maggie's pain and her dilemma. Her feelings are torn between guilt, unresolved pain, anger, hurt and fear. She loved Edward even when they divorced. It is hard to see him again. Why is he here? This is her town, her friends. The town of Devon sounds like a wonderful place to live or visit. Before and Again is a read that will leave you thinking about it after the book ends. Great read! I received an ARC of this book form St. Martin's Press through NetGalley for an honest review. The opinions and thoughts stated are mine only. Thanks to the publisher for the opportunity.
CherylandMattD 7 months ago
I enjoyed this book. McKenzie and her 5 year old daughter, Lily were in the car on their way to a playdate. McKenzie was having trouble finding the address. She didn't see the stop sign that was partially hidden by a tree and was hit by another driver. Lily was killed in the accident and McKenzie went to jail. Five years later, she has been released from jail and is living a new life where no one knows who she is. She even changed her name. She loves her job and loves her life. Then her friend's son gets accused of hacking a computer and it puts her in the spotlight she tried so hard to avoid. Then her ex husband comes back to town. After the accident, her family basically abandoned her and she divorced her husband. She felt he blamed her for killing their child. It's a story about learning to forgive yourself and others. **I received this book in exchange for my honest review**
sheilamiss56 7 months ago
Barbara Delinsky knows how to write a touching story that runs the gamut of emotions and Before and Again continues that tradition. This novel touched close to home for me and made me feel deep emotions that had been banked for years following the loss of my daughter 20 years ago. While this story had its own tragedy, the emotions of the characters were real. This author takes the worst loss imaginable and teaches us a lesson that life, though different, does continue. Both Edward and Maggie must come to terms with their grief and guilt, in order to move forward. This book is also about acceptance, hope and learning to love yourself. Ms. Delinsky delivers another novel that shows the vulnerability and resiliency of the human heart and the hope that love offers.