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To the Green-eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.

You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.

We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.

Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?


BOOK REVIEW: Before We Were Strangers

Renée Carlino


“You were always with me, Grace. I never found a way to let you go.”

It only takes one visit to New York City to understand why so many timeless works of fiction happen to take place here, why so many unforgettable love stories are inspired by this city, and just how many recognizable icons of this great metropolis are now reminders of some of the greatest books we’ve ever read. And we can now add another one to that list of greats. A love story spanning over more than a decade, this is the tale of two young people who simply met too soon in life to truly appreciate what they had found in one another, whose lives take off in different directions, but eventually bring them back to each other again, where they belonged all along, because their hearts would and could never love another. It’s a story that shows us that some loves have no expiry date, that some people are meant to be with one another no matter what, even when time is stolen from them, even when they are robbed of memories that could never be replaced, even when nothing could ever make them forget the bitter taste of regret from losing one another for so long. This was one of the most heartwarming romances I have ever read, a story I adored, and it made me miss the bustling streets of New York City even more, but knowing that next time I’m there, I’d be seeing it through these characters’ eyes too.

“You can’t re-create the first time you promise to love someone or the first time you feel loved by another. You cannot relive the sensation of fear, admiration, self-consciousness, passion, and desire all mixed into one because it never happens twice. You chase it like the first high for the rest of your life. It doesn’t mean you can’t love another or move on; it just means that the one spontaneous moment, the split second that you took the leap, when your heart was racing and your mind was muddled with What ifs?—that moment—will never happen the same way again. It will never feel as intense as the first time.”

Matt Shore and Grace Starr met on their first day of senior year at college, and from the moment they laid eyes on one another, they became inseparable. Both creative, strong-willed and independent, their shared quirkiness makes them perfect partners in crime, always encouraging each other’s artistic affinities and ambitions, and becoming each other’s muses and greatest fans, until the connection between them inevitably outgrows the bounds of their friendship and transforms into a romantic one. But as their final year of college comes to an end, their relationship all too quickly falls apart, leaving them heartbroken and mournful of all they had lost, forever wondering if they’d ever find such happiness again as the one they had found in each other’s arms.

“We were victims of bad timing. But here we are again.”

Fifteen years later and now both in their mid thirties, they see one another again for just a moment in time, and suddenly nothing can stop the memories of their time together from invading their every thought. But when they finally find each other and all the lingering questions about those missing years are answered at last, they are left with even more resentment and regret, their love having survived it all, but once again put to the test as their hearts struggle to forgive for all that was stolen from them.

“I missed everything, Gracie. I missed everything.”

A heart-wrenching, truly unforgettable tale of second chances at love, of two people whose love never died, never even dimmed, even though what was taken from them could never be given back. I rarely connect with two characters this way—I loved their every quirk, their every imperfection, their every insecurity, but I loved loved loved the way their hearts loved each other the most. Ms Carlino has a flair for dreamy, passionate love stories that warm our hearts and feed every romantic bone in our bodies, but this time around, she has given us a true gem, a timeless tale of a never-ending love set against the backdrop of a magical city she captured oh-so perfectly, a tale that I suspect will become a favourite for many.

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“New York has an energy that takes root inside of you. Even a transplant like me gets to know the different boroughs, like they’re living, breathing organisms. There’s nowhere else like it. The city becomes a character in your life, a love you can’t take out of you. The mysteriously human element about this place can make you fall in love and break your heart at the same time. When you hear her sound, when you breathe in her scent, you share it with all the people walking beside you on the street, in the subway, or gazing from a tall building across Central Park. You know at once that you are alive, and that life is beautiful, precious, and fleeting.”

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BOOK REVIEW & EXCERPT: The Moment of Letting Go by J.A. Redmerski
EXCLUSIVE ALTERNATE POV SCENE: My Biggest Mistake by Leddy Harper

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