Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Published: Scribner
Publisher: May 28, 2019
Format: via audiobook
Rating: 4/5

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

My Thoughts
Ask Again, Yes is the story of two families who endure a tragedy and how they overcome and try to move on from it. Francis and Bruce were two rookie cops who worked briefly together but later find themselves neighbors. When they moved in Francis wife, Lena wanted and needed a friend but Brian’s wife Anne was very closed off from the get-go. Soon Kate, Francis and Lena daughter and Peter, Brian and Anne’s son become close friends. Over the years we see their friendship grow and they become each others consent.

Peter has always known his mother is different than other moms, she has episodes and doesn't come out of her room for days or weeks and her highs are highs but her lows are really low. She continues to have these manic episodes and Peter doesn't know what exactly is wrong with her and his father is no help at all. She needs help but doesn't know what to do and all of this comes to a head one night and what happens as a result of it could end Peter and Kate’s friendship but also tie the families together forever.

This novel spans over 40 years and shows us overtime how these two families lives are embedded into each other. We see Peter and Kate grow up and apart but are always thinking of each other until they finally reunite. Kate’s life while it has its struggles family wise isn't as hard as Peter's. His family life is all but destroyed after that one night, his mother is in a mental institution and his father basically leaves him behind with his uncle never to be heard from again. Of all the characters I felt for Peter, his life is the one that could've destroyed him but his uncle and Kate were two people who wouldn't give up on him. As he got older he family problems and his past got the better of him which led to a dark period in his life but once again Kate was there to help him through it.

This is a story of love, friendship, hardships, mental illness, and addiction. We get the highs and lows of these two families who were destined to come together for better or worse. I loved the spanned of decades and how we see them grow and overcome their demons with help from each other. Ask Again, Yes is a wonderful yet gritty story at times that shows us we can overcome anything in life.

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