Review: Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

Title: Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From Barbara Delinsky, the New York Times bestselling author of Blueprints and Sweet Salt Air, a brand-new novel about a woman in hiding finding the courage to face the world again.

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.

From a multimillion-selling master of women’s fiction, 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 by Barbara Delinsky is an emotionally compelling novel of forgiveness, love and friendship.

Five years ago, Mackenzie Cooper and her husband Edward have an idyllic life with their five year old daughter, Lily. Taking her eyes off the road for just an instant, Mackenzie  runs a stop sign which results in a horrific crash that kills Lily and the driver of the other car.  After losing her marriage and the support of family and friends, Mackenzie relocates to Devon, Vermont where she lives a quiet life as Maggie Reid. With a successful career as a make-up artist at an upscale inn, Maggie unexpectedly finds herself thrust in the spotlight after her best friend Grace Emory’s fifteen year old son Chris is arrested for computer hacking. Despite warnings from her probation officer to stay away from Grace and Chris, Maggie refuses to abandon them in their hour of need. Further complicating her peaceful life are the shocking arrivals of two people from her past. Will Maggie be able to protect her secrets from the people who mean so much to her? Or will the clash of her past and present provide Maggie the impetus she needs to forgive herself for the accident?

Although she has erased much of the person she was before moving to Vermont, Maggie never lets herself forget or forgive herself for causing the accident that killed Lily. She has locked her grief deep inside and while she has achieved a modicum of happiness, Maggie remains mired in guilt over her past. Her life in Devon is very different from the one she shared with Edward and she is content with the simple pleasures she derives from her beloved pets, friendships and career.  However, with the exception of her best guy pal, Kevin McKay, no one knows anything about her past.

The stunning arrival of two people from her former life sends shockwaves through Maggie and she has no intention of allowing them upend the life she has forged for herself. She is deeply troubled by these daily reminders of everything she has lost and she remains resistant to the idea of allowing either of them become a part of her present or future. However, their presence is the catalyst she needs to stop defining herself by the past and give herself permission to find happiness.

Maggie and the rest of the small community are shocked when Chris is arrested for the numerous hacking incidents that have recently occurred. Grace is a single mother who works at the Spa with Maggie and she works long hours trying to make ends meet.  Grace is an intensely private person who never speaks of her life before moving to Devon but in the face of overwhelming media scrutiny, she, too, will have to face the life she left behind.

Before and Again is deeply moving novel of healing that is poignant yet ultimately, uplifting. All of the characters are beautifully developed with frailties and stengths that will resonate will readers. The storyline is realistic and moves at an even pace.  I absolutely loved and highly recommend this incredibly heartwarming novel of compassion and grace to old and new readers of Barbara Delinsky.

Comments Off on Review: Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

Filed under Barbara Delinsky, Before and Again, Contemporary, Rated B+, Review, St Martin's Press, Women's Fiction

Comments are closed.