Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane


Release date: May 28, 2019

Publisher: Scribner

Genre: Literary Fiction


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

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are two NYPD rookies assigned to the same Bronx precinct in 1973. They aren’t close friends on the job, but end up living next door to each other outside the city. What goes on 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 stunning events to come.

Ask Again, Yes by award-winning author Mary Beth Keane, is a beautifully moving exploration of the friendship and love that blossoms between Francis’s youngest daughter, Kate, and Brian’s son, Peter, who are born six months apart. In the spring of Kate and Peter’s eighth grade year a violent event divides the neighbors, the Stanhopes are forced to move away, and the children are forbidden to have any further contact.

But Kate and Peter find a way back to each other, and their relationship is tested by the echoes from their past. Ask Again, Yes reveals how the events of childhood look different when reexamined from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace. 


There has been so much positive buzz surrounding this book and I was SO excited when it was finally time for me to start reading it but, unpopular opinion alert, I didn’t love it as much as I was hoping to. There definitely is quite a lot to love about this one but unfortunately for me there was also enough that didn’t work for me that I can’t truly say I’m a fan.

For the first half of the book I was pretty well invested, the writing is fantastic, no doubt the author is talented, and the storyline itself while not necessarily gripping, had me interested for sure. I really liked that we followed two families over several decades and the character development was very strong, I think it was maybe a little too strong for me actually. Often I struggle with literary fiction, it’s sometimes too heavy and dense for me and while that wasn’t my exact issue here, I’m beginning to think that maybe LF in general just isn’t for me. I didn’t find the writing style to be too verbose or over the top like I sometimes feel, however I did find myself start to lose interest at the halfway point and I think at least part of the reason why is because it started to feel like things were dragging, almost at a standstill for me. I really and truly had to push myself to finish and maybe I should’ve just set it aside because it was a struggle form halfway to the end. But after spending quite a bit of time getting to the middle point I stubbornly refused to set it aside, I figured I could power through and honestly that wasn’t a smart decision.

I’m clearly in the minority on this one, just browse Goodreads or Instagram and you’ll see plenty of rave reviews so if you’re interested in this one please take my thoughts with a grain of salt. I’ve been struggling in general lately with quite a few books, clearly I’m moody and super picky right now so keep that in mind while deciding whether or not to read this one.

Overall rating: Between a 2.5-3 for me I can’t actually decide but I always round up so let’s just call it a 3 and move on 😂

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

3 thoughts on “Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

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