Review: Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky


Release date: June 26, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Women’s Fiction


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.

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.


Before and Again was my first Barbara Delinsky book so I really wasn’t sure what to expect, when a book is labeled as women’s fiction it’s hard to know if it’ll be on the light, funny side or if it’ll be more serious and emotional. This one definitely fell on the emotional side, though it wasn’t too heavy, more thought provoking than depressing and definitely hopeful in the end.

Maggie had one of those life changing moments when she was in an accident, her daughter passed away and her marriage crumbled. Fast forward five years and she’s finally settled into a very different life from her old one, but if she’s not exactly happy she has found a small bit of peace in Vermont. Maggie as a character was highly complex with a host of issues and traumas and Delinsky did a great job of exploring her issues in a deep way. The growth and discovery she experiences throughout the book is outstanding and I was very empathetic to her, I can’t even imagine what she went through after her accident.

Besides Maggie there is a colorful cast of supporting characters that added so much life and vitality to the story, I really enjoyed them all. This read like a family saga with plenty of drama and a vast range of emotions and it took me on my own emotional roller coaster. If a book can make me feel something I’m happy and this one made me happy, angry, reflective and sad among many others. Recommended for a book club but also for anyone looking for a women’s fiction read that has tons of emotional depth.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Before and Again in three words: Evocative, Deep and Moving.

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