It took me a while to figure out what Mary Beth Keane intended when telling the story of Ask Again, Yes. And honestly, I could be completely off the mark, but I think at the crux of this story is forgiveness, the real kind.
It all begins with two families, the Gleesons and the Stanhopes. Both fathers are cops with the NYPD and live next door to each other. But despite their close proximity these families hardly know each other, and after words are exchanged one night any semblance of a friendship is ruined. Still, their two kids, the Gleeson’s Kate and the Stanhope’s Peter, manage to form a solid friendship, and later, a budding romance.
The story takes us through the children’s formative years and gives us a glimpse into their home lives as they try to navigate their families’ ambivalence toward each other. Then one night everything changes, and each family is left shattered. The story then takes us on an emotionally charged journey as each family tries to put the pieces of their lives back together.
This story is about forgiveness, but it explores themes of love, lies, mental illness, alcoholism, and the many little nuances of human life. What Keane does best is show the humanity of it all. None of these characters are perfect, they all make mistakes, and they are all forced to face the consequences.
I always enjoy a story that celebrates and challenges the human condition. I like a story that I can laugh and cry about and Ask Again, Yes had that. Keane manages to navigate sensitive topics like mental illness and alcoholism with compassion, and no matter what horrible thing a character did I could really feel for them.
It’s not a perfect story and I felt parts of it were skimmed over that I wished weren’t. Still, if you picked this book up for the aesthetically pleasing cover (as I’m sure many of us did), I hope that you end up staying for the story.
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Reviewed by: Lily (Guest Contributor)