Rating: 4 / 5
Mary Beth Keane’s Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting multi-generational story of family, addiction, mental illness, and forgiveness in all stages of one’s life.
Thank you to Scribner for the free copy of this beautiful book!
It starts with Francis and Brian – rookie cops on the streets of New York. Both marry and move to the suburbs, and right next door to each other. They’re friendly, but not best friends. Their children, Kate and Peter, however, create a loyal and unbreakable bond throughout their childhood years.
As Kate and Peter grow closer together, their families grow farther apart. Peter’s mother is aloof and cold, both with her son and her neighbors. Everyone knows that something is wrong, but no one knows what – or how to handle it.
Finally, as everyone always suspected might happen – Peter’s mother does something terrible. Kate and Peter are ripped apart but always find their way back to each other. Through the years, they must overcome what happened to them on that night, and what challenges face them in, or follow them into, adulthood.
This is a story of childhood trauma and of how much we’re willing to forgive – how much we need to forgive in order to be okay. It’s a story of lifelong love in its many forms.
Please take caution while reading Ask Again, Yes if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Mild child abuse
- Death or dying
- Pregnancy / childbirth / miscarriages
- Mental illness
Ask Again, Yes is a touching and painful look at family dynamics and seemingly star-crossed love. It’s so true to what real life can look like, and that’s why I think it’s so affecting. The story is character-driven and thus the character development is fantastic – you will feel deeply connected to Kate, Peter, and their parents quite quickly.
The characters are so richly complicated. all have serious flaws and do some bad things, but they aren’t altogether unredeemable – they are still deserving of some kind of love. In this way, the theme of forgiveness is first and foremost throughout the novel. When you are wronged, at what point – if ever – is it your obligation to forgive, to reopen your heart, and even to forget? Each pivotal character has a different answer to this complex question – as will you as the reader.
This story has been classified as a slow burn, but I’m not sure that I agree. As I’ve said, it’s deeply character-driven, and the character development is, in my opinion, far more important than what is actually happening in their lives. There’s a shocking moment near the beginning, but to expect any huge revelations or twists is to set yourself up for failure. Enjoy the development of the families and their relationships with one another rather than focusing on any action-packed story line.
Ask Again, Yes is an undeniably beautiful work of fiction. With family dynamics, complicated love, and realistic struggles, this story has the perfect ingredients to create a moving portrayal of life and love. If you enjoy character-driven novels, you will surely enjoy this novel!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on Ask Again, Yes. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!