Ask Again, Yes

Ask Again, Yes

How much can a family forgive?A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens...

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Title:Ask Again, Yes
Author:Mary Beth Keane
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Ask Again, Yes Reviews

  • Tammy

    The cover of this book is remarkable and behind the cover is a remarkable book. At first glance, the cover appears to be an example of a painting technique known as impasto (I think). Closer scrutiny reveals a typical suburban neighborhood that could be Anywhere, USA. And so it is with this novel. At first glance, Ask Again, Yes seems to be an American dream or coming of age novel and in some ways it is but beneath these obvious themes lie much more. A violent act leaves two families forever cha

    The cover of this book is remarkable and behind the cover is a remarkable book. At first glance, the cover appears to be an example of a painting technique known as impasto (I think). Closer scrutiny reveals a typical suburban neighborhood that could be Anywhere, USA. And so it is with this novel. At first glance, Ask Again, Yes seems to be an American dream or coming of age novel and in some ways it is but beneath these obvious themes lie much more. A violent act leaves two families forever changed and another event leaves them forever linked. You will live the decades of these characters’ lives right along with them. Mental illness, stoicism, alcoholism, achievement, love and forgiveness mark this marvelous novel and the author treats her characters with great tenderness. You won’t forget them.

  • Dorie  - Traveling Sister :)

    ***NOW AVAILABLE***

    This is one of those books that, as I pondered writing this review, I have changed my rating from a 4 to a 5. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how incredibly strong the characters in this book are, I finished it last week and I’m still thinking about them., all of them. If you love strong character driven books, you will love this one! I had a bit of believability issues with one of the main characters but it doesn’t take away from the entire body of work.

    From

    ***NOW AVAILABLE***

    This is one of those books that, as I pondered writing this review, I have changed my rating from a 4 to a 5. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how incredibly strong the characters in this book are, I finished it last week and I’m still thinking about them., all of them. If you love strong character driven books, you will love this one! I had a bit of believability issues with one of the main characters but it doesn’t take away from the entire body of work.

    From the blurb you know that this novel is about two neighboring families, both husbands are policemen who started out as rookies on the NYPD force. The book is told from several points of view which I think greatly improved my understanding of how the individuals felt and acted.

    Francis Gleeson has had a great career, he is strong willed, intelligent, diligent and yet with his family he has an incredible soft touch. He is the first to move to this new suburb, he, his wife and two daughters are doing well individually and as a family, although Lena is at times lonely and would like a larger life outside the home.

    Within months Brian and Anne move in next door to the Gleeson’s. Brian and Francis are not close friends at this point, but they are friendly. Anne is quite a different matter, she does not go out of her way to befriend the Gleesons and keeps to her house much of the time. Later, both Anne and Lena have children only six months apart, Peter and Kate, who are immediately bonded to each other even as little friends. Their story will play a huge part in the novel.

    A terrible incident occurs which changes the lives of everyone in both families, it is tragic, horrific and probably could have been avoided. The Stanhopes are forced to move away. I would not spoil this novel for anyone by giving away anything more.

    This is a book that I couldn’t wait to get back to and finished in two days. This story hits all the emotional buttons, happiness, extreme sadness, frustration, hope, love and forgiveness. We are taken through the lives of these families who handle the tragedy in very different ways. The plot flows very well and is extremely well thought out. We really get to know these people, this is the first book this year that has touched me in this way.

    Buy the book, read it, ponder what you would do in this situation and you won’t be disappointed.

    As an afterthought, I did read The Walking People, by this author many years ago and it was excellent, so if you enjoy this one, go back and read the other.

    I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.

  • Susanne  Strong

    5 Stars.

    Edited after much thought to revise rating from 4.25 Stars to 5 Stars. The ramifications of this novel and its ending have stayed with me!

    This novel is an exploration of life, love, family, mistakes and the tragedies of everyday life. The Stanhopes and the Gleasons are at odds. Will they ever heal the rift that tore their families apart?

    Alcoholism, friendship, forgiveness, mental illness, love and tragedy. These are the themes of “Ask

    5 Stars.

    Edited after much thought to revise rating from 4.25 Stars to 5 Stars. The ramifications of this novel and its ending have stayed with me!

    This novel is an exploration of life, love, family, mistakes and the tragedies of everyday life. The Stanhopes and the Gleasons are at odds. Will they ever heal the rift that tore their families apart?

    Alcoholism, friendship, forgiveness, mental illness, love and tragedy. These are the themes of “Ask Again, Yes.”

    This is one heck of an engrossing novel. I truly felt for the characters of Peter and Kate. The trials and tribulations of two families - your heart will literally be pulled in two, feeling bad for each, at certain points in time, almost feeling as if you are betraying the other. Admittedly, parts of this novel totally shocked me. I felt as though I should have understood certain things from the get go and didn’t and when things came to light I was like “oh!” Then there is the ending… yes, tears sprung to my eyes, (some of you are like, yeah “big surprise, you old sap!”). Seriously though, I simply couldn’t help myself!

    This was a buddy read with Kaceey. I loved reading this one with you Kaceey and was so glad that you ended up liking this one too!

    Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner and Mary Beth Keane for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

    Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 4.7.19.

    Will be published on Amazon and Twitter on 5.28.19.

  • j e w e l s

    Well. No reason to read any more books this year. This is it. My favorite of 2019.

    While I tend to devour the psychological suspense novels, I also love a good and messy family drama novel.

    is a character driven family saga covering almost three generations from Ireland to contemporary New York state.

    The story revolves around two couples living as neighbors, but not really as friends. There is something a little cold about one of the wives and even though

    Well. No reason to read any more books this year. This is it. My favorite of 2019.

    While I tend to devour the psychological suspense novels, I also love a good and messy family drama novel.

    is a character driven family saga covering almost three generations from Ireland to contemporary New York state.

    The story revolves around two couples living as neighbors, but not really as friends. There is something a little cold about one of the wives and even though the men work as cops together, the families never hit it off. Over the years, one child from each family becomes very close with the other, and at the age of fourteen, this couple realizes they may even love each other. But then, a tragic incident. Their friendship and love for each other is put to the test many times in the years that follow for our young lovebirds.

    However, this is so much more than a run of the mill Romeo and Juliet story.

    is a remarkable and gifted writer. She writes with empathy and concern for all her fictional characters. She cares about them. And, so will you. She seamlessly weaves in alcoholism, mental illness, parental obligations and marriage…so very carefully woven together, the problems sneak up on the reader just as they tend to do in real life.

    Heartbreaking at times-never sentimental, uplifting other times,

    is one of those books you will always remember reading. I am putting it up there with my all-time fave

    .

    The 🎧audio🎧 is perfection—I listened to this book constantly for two days. It is an unforgettable story!

  • Angela M

    4.5 stars

    I have always enjoyed reading family stories that take me on their journey across time. This is a story of two families over several decades and how their lives intersect in a tragic way as well as one that is filled of love and ultimately forgiveness. Two NYC police officers, living next door to each other in the suburbs, connected mainly by the friendship of their two young children. Abruptly the things going on in one of the families impact the other in a way that changes everyone’s

    4.5 stars

    I have always enjoyed reading family stories that take me on their journey across time. This is a story of two families over several decades and how their lives intersect in a tragic way as well as one that is filled of love and ultimately forgiveness. Two NYC police officers, living next door to each other in the suburbs, connected mainly by the friendship of their two young children. Abruptly the things going on in one of the families impact the other in a way that changes everyone’s life and the two young friends are separated. In less capable hands, this book could have been melodramatic, but it wasn’t. The author addressed some tough, realistic issues - mental illness, alcoholism, parental abandonment and the effects on these characters, who I was vested in throughout, felt for throughout. This could never be a happily ever after story because the things that happened to these characters are burdens that while can be lightened by that love, loyalty and forgiveness, they can never fully be erased. An ending that was satisfying and provided realistic closure. Highly recommended.

    This was a monthly buddy read with Diane and Esil.

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Scribner through Edelweiss and NetGalley.

  • karen

    NOW AVAILABLE!!

    heads up to whom it may concern: this book is primo book club bait. in general, the best book club choices are ones with juicy conflicts at their centers which inspire strong, differing, politely expressed opinions from your assembled booknerds. and the best of

    have an extra component—they allow the reader a sort of peripheral empathy; taking recognizable, relatable issues like illness, marital/job stress, disputes with the neighbors, etc, and then dramatically inflating the

    NOW AVAILABLE!!

    heads up to whom it may concern: this book is primo book club bait. in general, the best book club choices are ones with juicy conflicts at their centers which inspire strong, differing, politely expressed opinions from your assembled booknerds. and the best of

    have an extra component—they allow the reader a sort of peripheral empathy; taking recognizable, relatable issues like illness, marital/job stress, disputes with the neighbors, etc, and then dramatically inflating them into situations one hopes never to have to live through, providing that “there but for the” shiver.

    the publisher's synopsis seems to want to keep its secrets, so i'll play along and summarize in the broadest terms: it’s about two families and one verybad night that changes the course of their lives for decades to come. and the specifics of

    dramatically inflated situation, and all of its ripple effects, are sure to inspire some wide-ranging booknerd opinions.

    it has all of the things that breed discussion—nuanced characters with complicated relationships given years to develop and adjust, and to confront life’s myriad challenges: infidelity, addiction, mental illness, abandonment, loneliness, regret—all of the meaty woes of life. but it’s also a first love story, with a bit of a romeo and juliet edge, although in this case, the capulet’s disapproval of their kid’s romantic choice is totally legit. awkward thanksgivings for sure.

    it’s an engrossing and insightful story of human relationships and growth and forgiveness, but it’s not schmaltzy and sentimental like so many books of its kind. i liked it. maybe your book club will like it.

    but don't take my word for it—there’s actually a literary litmus test for IS THIS A BOOK CLUB BOOK?

    IS THIS A BOOK CLUB BOOK?

    does it look like this?

    it does!

    does it look like this?

    it does!

    does it look like this?

    it does!

    I THINK IT IS A BOOK CLUB BOOK!!!

  • Emily May

    Oh, I love a good family drama.

    is a book about the members of two families-- the Gleesons and the Stanhopes. They are first brought together through the New York City police academy when young rookies Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope work together. Later, they become neighbours and start families next to one another. Except any chance of cordiality between them is destroye

    Oh, I love a good family drama.

    is a book about the members of two families-- the Gleesons and the Stanhopes. They are first brought together through the New York City police academy when young rookies Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope work together. Later, they become neighbours and start families next to one another. Except any chance of cordiality between them is destroyed on one fateful night.

    This is one of those intimate character portraits that explores the interactions between the characters in depth and with an unusual level of insight into human nature. There are some perfectly-crafted scenes where as the reader I felt like, yes, that is exactly how someone would behave in that situation. While the book is busy focusing on the characters, many issues emerge over the course of the novel, integrated so seamlessly that it wasn't until I looked back at the end that I fully appreciated what Keane had done.

    I don't want to make the book seem sentimental, because it is not at all. But it is very empathetic, and the author writes each character with love and sensitivity. Anne's mental illness causes ruptures in her marriage with Brian, amongst other things, while the Gleesons seem determined to honor commitment no matter what troubles befall them.

    I love the understanding that consequences can be far-reaching, both over time and to other people. The book follows the Gleeson daughter, Kate, and the Stanhope son, Peter, over many years, and yet they can never fully escape their beginnings.

    You probably know by now if this is a YOU book. It's one of those for readers who like to explore the nuances of human behaviour and relationships. An obvious choice if you loved Ng's

    .

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  • Chaima ✨ شيماء

    Lying in my bed at night, after finishing this book, I found myself unwilling audience to a seethe of objectionable thoughts about the story, like watching a flickering home movie projected into a makeshift screen. My mind refused to release me to oblivion, and, although the ending brings to mind the setting of one’s soul at ease and the wheeling of stars into alignment once again, I turned the last page feeling heavier with what I knew. I still do.

    Brian Stanhope and

    Lying in my bed at night, after finishing this book, I found myself unwilling audience to a seethe of objectionable thoughts about the story, like watching a flickering home movie projected into a makeshift screen. My mind refused to release me to oblivion, and, although the ending brings to mind the setting of one’s soul at ease and the wheeling of stars into alignment once again, I turned the last page feeling heavier with what I knew. I still do.

    Brian Stanhope and Francis Gleeson are friends, but perhaps “friends” is an inaccurate word to use. They moved into neighboring homes in the small town of Gillam with their respective new brides, Anne and Lena, but mainly were thrown together by the fact that they were both rookie cops in a tough Bronx precinct—a situation which, at the time, did not seem necessarily unpropitious. Francis’s youngest daughter, Kate, and Brian’s only son, Peter, sought true friendship in the golden harbor of each other’s arms, but tragedy found them first. Violence and towering rage were like a leak that stole all the air from their homes, and soon, a final invisible mooring line snapped, and Kate and Peter are both cast adrift.

    Years later, Kate and Peter are still rummaging the dark, and each other, for happiness, spitting the past out behind them and throwing themselves into the future. But once unearthed, there was no containing the memories, and they are soon being hunted by all the sorrows they had collected over the years—their whole arsenal, turned against them. Kate and Peter will soon find out that tragedies do not immunize you against further tragedies, misfortune doesn’t get scattered around in fair proportions, and the past could become a stone that quickly drags you to the depths when “

    .”

    The plot of

    , for a while, has some trouble catching flight, but as the families’ tragedy is dragged to the fore, the depth of the author’s storytelling prowess unveils itself. There’s a vicious grace and a soul-baring emotional honesty to the novel, and Keane has deftly crafted a masterly wrought diorama full of realistically rendered relationships and tensions, observations about family, the ties that bind mothers and sons even through years of separation, and the ways love ferments in the airless conditions of unaddressed trauma. The author invites us into the low-lit corners of every household at those tremulous moments in which the whole human condition is suddenly within reach, if heartbreakingly so, and the story she tells, as strange in its specificity as it is, remains universal in its familiarity.

    One of the novel’s most poignant successes is the way Keane challenges her readers—and characters—by offering a myriad of angles on the events, and infusing each with enough complexity to make them lodge themselves in the reader’s mind. The tragedy that has befallen the Gleeson and Stanhope families is disinterred throughout the novel, reexamined and re-discussed. Loose threads are picked out of every version and efforts are made to knit it all together in order to make a single, comprehensible tale. Sometimes those threads leave gaps too wide to be darned, making all that has unfolded devoid of a clear rhyme and reason.

    Keane lets every character speak for themselves, and allows the reader to eavesdrop on the layered complications of their hearts, and decide which character should capture their allegiance. She never ignores their faults, their achingly human proneness to self-justification, but she also captures their longing to be kind, and despite myself, I often suffered a deep pang of sympathy for them. That’s what good storytelling does—it transforms a character from a tangential sketch into a human being, links “us” to “them.” If there's a fault to be found here is that the novel's inhabitants could emote more effusively. More often than not, they come off as silent, set apart from the violence of their emotions. That's not enough, however, to put a serious dent in the novel's spell.

    is irreversibly sanguine; but it isn’t the easiest read. It's a dark, disturbing book; and as you read the novel, it is impossible to dislodge a sense of foreboding from your mind—the feeling like seeing a shark’s fin vanishing beneath the waves. We do not so much wonder what might happen as worry about what will happen. That haunted atmosphere permeates every page, and I could feel the dread stirring in me like ash as Kate and Peter stubbornly carry the hopelessness none of them would utter before them, hoping for the other to filch it away.

    is more than just another story about a family with little to offer but a sad history. There's plenty of nuance, dimension and empathy to Keane’s novel.

    provides a potently visceral portrait of what it’s like to live with mental illness, while delicately probing the long-lasting repercussions of its non-treatment. The layered narrative across the decades shows how attitudes towards mental illness are changing for the better—but we still have a long way to go.

    At the novel’s heart also lurks the certainty that the things one is made to endure in childhood could not be undone and would steer their fates for many years to come, that the pain suffered in youth is bound to leave a rotten place, like a bruise on fruit, somewhere on one's soul. "

    ,” writes Keane, “

    ." Even so,

    , wades through the darkness with heart. Hope makes an appearance (or, if anything, the last stage before hope becomes attainable). Hope that no matter how far you travel away from your loved ones, it’ll come a day when you will make out each other’s silhouettes again. That you may have given each other wounds, but they are not always mortal.

    is a hugely sensitive and deeply humanizing story about the never-ending ache of love and loss. Not to be missed!

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  • Chelsea Humphrey

    You've seen this book around before. You know the one I'm talking about; it's got an aesthetically pleasing blue-green cover, boasts of domestic drama and in-depth character study of the darker side of families, while promising the reader that they will experience a grand range of emotion by the time the final page is turned. These books are one thing, pur

    You've seen this book around before. You know the one I'm talking about; it's got an aesthetically pleasing blue-green cover, boasts of domestic drama and in-depth character study of the darker side of families, while promising the reader that they will experience a grand range of emotion by the time the final page is turned. These books are one thing, pure and simple:

    . While I always fall for the cover, the inside of such books rarely leaves a longterm impression on me, because it is truly difficult for a book that follows the same procedure and format as every other in its genre to attain a memorable status in my internal hard drive. Yes, this book did follow that formula, remaining fairly predictable, but for some reason these characters were quite enticing, and the author did leave an impression that kept me thinking about these characters well after finishing their story.

    I can't help but loosely compare this book to the likes of Liane Moriarty, because I had a similar reading experience while working through

    as I did when I picked up

    . Years ago, I joined an online bookclub with my sister and the first month we participated, we were discussing BLL. It was long, and I was intimidated, and the beginning portions were incredibly slow, so much so that I almost tossed the book and told Irina she was on her own. ;) I'm really glad she encouraged me to stick with it, because once I was fully invested in the characters, I began to breeze through and consider it one of the first books to help me embrace the lighter side of the mystery genre. AAY has a very similar setup-slow burning intro while we get acquainted with the characters, and then we steadily speed up once a few "things" begin to happen.

    There are many, many emotional aspects to this story, and for the most part it's very sad and mildly heavy, but the ending was done so well that it kept my final verdict as hopeful, while teaching me where to be grateful. The characters of both families suffer tremendously in various ways over the years, and some of the reasons are based on their choices, but most of the outcomes are results of unexpected circumstances, which gave a tense, straining sensation as the story unfolds. If you enjoy family sagas that feature coming-of-age in less than ideal circumstances, you may want to give this one a try for yourself. Some of the buzz-worthy topics included are mental health, addiction, cancer, and how tragedy affects all sorts of relationships, such as married couples and parents/children. Those are some tough issues to cover, but this book does so in very mild ways, with little to no graphic content, and mainly just in being referred to prior to an event or as a memory. The possible discussions that will spur from reading this book are endless, and I cannot wait to see how the general public reacts to

    once it's released.

  • BernLuvsBooks (Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas)

    This is definitely not my typical type of read but I'm so glad I gave it a try. The Gleesons and the Stanhopes fully captured me. I easily found myself invested in these people as I followed their family histories through time.

    Brian Stanhope and Francis Gleeson are rookie cops who meet

    This is definitely not my typical type of read but I'm so glad I gave it a try. The Gleesons and the Stanhopes fully captured me. I easily found myself invested in these people as I followed their family histories through time.

    Brian Stanhope and Francis Gleeson are rookie cops who meet at the academy and are then assigned to the same precinct. Years later they find themselves living next to each other, their children becoming friends and the families forever intertwined.

    This is also a story that sheds light on some of the darker aspects of family life - alcoholism, mental illness, abuse and infidelity.

    On a night when young Peter Stanhope and Kate Gleeson sneak out to be together, tragedy strikes causing a huge rift between the two families. The two teenagers are ripped apart from each other despite their love for each other. Can their love survive distance, time and familial obligation?

    I loved Kate and Peter so much! I was fully invested in their story and how it evolved over time. Though this was a slow moving novel (which I'm typically not a huge fan of), I found myself coming back to it every chance I got. The characters were well fleshed out and Keane wrote about mental illness with sensitivity. What I enjoyed most was that the relationships were not fluffy and easy - they were messy, complicated and deeply moving.

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