Welcome to the Between Before & After Blog Tour! This marks one of eighteen stops on the Fantastic Flying Book Club (FFBC) blog tour hosting Between Before & After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry, a historical mystery alternating between early and mid 1900s. Stick around to discover more about the book and author, read my review, enter a giveaway to win one of five (5) copies of the book and signed bookplate, and visit other stops along the tour. Now, let’s rifle through the pages of some tragic history and mysteries!
About the Book
Between Before and After
by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Release Date: February 5th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery
“The carnage began with the roses. She hacked at their ruffled blooms until they dropped into monstrous drifts of red on the parched yellow lawn … Only two things kept my mother grounded to us: my uncle Stephen and stories.”
Fourteen-year-old Molly worries about school, friends, and her parents’ failed marriage, but mostly about her mother’s growing depression. Molly knows her mother is nursing a carefully-kept secret. A writer with an obsession for other people’s life stories, Elaine Donnelly is the poster child of repressed emotions.
Molly spends her California summer alternately watching out for her little brother Angus and tip-toeing around her mother’s raw feelings. Molly needs her mother more than ever, but Elaine shuts herself off from real human connections and buries herself in the lives and deaths of the strangers she writes about. When Uncle Stephen is pressed into the limelight because of his miracle cure of a young man, Elaine can no longer hide behind other people’s stories. And as Molly digs into her mother’s past, she finds a secret hidden in her mother’s dresser that may be the key to unlocking a family mystery dating to 1918 New York—a secret that could destroy or save their future.
Told in alternating perspectives between Molly and her mother, Elaine, Between Before and After crosses distance and time–from 1955 San Jose, California to 1919 Brooklyn, New York and back–spinning a tale of grief, determination, and wonder.
In Between Before and After, McQuerry reveals the strained, tenuous relationship between mother and daughter. A writer, Elaine immerses herself in her biographies project, emotionally closed off from Molly. Elaine’s past a mystery to her. Until Molly discovers a hidden envelope among her mother’s belongings, containing breadcrumbs from her life’s journey. Until Elaine’s emotional outburst in her garden spurs Molly into action. Molly becomes determined to follow the trail collecting as many pieces of her mother as she can, hoping to truly find her way home to Elaine.
Buried in the past, both her own and of those she writes about, Elaine is forced into the present when claims arise that her brother, Stephen, is dubbed a miracle worker after “curing” a teenage boy of fatal disease. As investigators and religious fanatics descend on her house, old instincts return as Elaine attempts to protect her family from those who threaten its peace and happiness.
McQuerry summons Elaine’s tragic coming of age, in a period following World War I and in the midst of widespread outbreak of the deadly Spanish flu. Elaine’s childhood is rife with devastating loss. Her childhood innocence shed too soon. Disease and covert affairs hack away at her family until little remains (much like her later attack on her garden). And, with this, comes terrible burden–of sorrow and loneliness, obligation to care for her younger brother, and survival despite the odds.
McQuerry’s writing is lovely and flows smoothly across the page. The worlds she builds are vivid, tangible, and rich in history as are her characters. Not unlike our modern era, McQuerry constructs a world where flu pandemic sweeps through countries leveling populations, evils pry children from parents, and youths are left to wander a perilous landscape to pursue uncertain futures.
McQuerry’s characters breathe unique spirit into the narrative. Molly navigates the dynamics of friendship, crushes, and life as a child of divorced parents surprisingly well. Little does she know, Molly shares more in common with her mother than her knack for writing, like her mother’s youthful self consciousness. Like his uncle, Molly’s brother, Angus, is widely imaginative, intelligent, and determined, almost to a fault.
Elaine and her strength and resilience flares through the narrative brightest. Though she seems to grow quite a bit in her youth, Elaine becomes stunted as an adult. Rather than taking responsibility for and accepting the consequences of her own actions and decisions (and acknowledging those of others), she continually blames God for not intervening on her behalf. Then when intervention comes (as many believe is the case with the “miracle”), she insists it isn’t enough. Which makes her frustrating. Although not a central character, Stephen seems to grow the most, from being completely dependent on his sister as a child to becoming someone she and her children could depend on in adulthood.
This potent novel is a study in secrets and struggles interwoven with fantastical images of survival–the retelling of Hansel and Gretel, the miracle boy, a family member’s “return from the dead”. Between Before and After is both a cautionary tale and one full of hope. And a testament to the power of stories, the ones we tell others and, more importantly, those we tell ourselves.
I received a free advanced copy of Between Before & After as part of the FFBC Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
All of my books have an element of mystery and magic, even the realistic stories. And as a friend pointed out, there is a library in every one of them. It must be because libraries have always been magical places for me.
Maureen McQuerry is an award winning poet, novelist and teacher. Her YA novel, The Peculiars (Abrams/Amulet 2012) is an ALA Best Book for Young Adult Readers 2013, Bank Street and Horne Book recommended book, and a winner of the Westchester Award. Her most recent book is Beyond the Door (Abrams/Amulet), a Booklist top Ten Fantasy/SciFi for Youth. It is the first in a MG duo that combines, Celtic myth, shapeshifters and a secret code in a coming of age story. The adventure continues in The Telling Stone. Beyond the Door is a current finalist for the WA State Book awards.
That Artsy Reader Girl -Welcome Interview
The Reading Corner for All – Book Review
The Book Return – Book Review + Favorite Quotes
Savings In Seconds – Book Review
Kait Plus Books – Author Guest Post
Adventures Thru Wonderland – Book Review
The Desert Bibliophile – Book Review + Favorite Quotes
A Bookish Dream – Book Review
BookishGeek – Book Review
Here’s to Happy Endings – Book Review + Favorite Quotes
Absolute Bookishness – Book Review
Feed Your Fiction Addiction – Author Guest Post
Betwixt the Pages – Book Review
Confessions of a YA Reader – Author Q&A
Lisa Loves Literature – Book Review
Angela Walker’s Review – Book Review
ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY:
- 5 Finished Copies of Between Before & After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry + Signed Bookplates
- USA Only
- No Giveaway accounts
(Runs February 4th through February 15th)
*Click the Rafflecopter Link below to enter*