ASK AGAIN, YES by Mary Beth Keane
★★★★ / 5 (Standard)
★★★ / 5 (Mama Scale)
ASK AGAIN YES is a multi-layered, family drama meets coming of age story that spans the course of fifty years.
I'm going to be very honest. I've delayed my review of this one because I was a bit underwhelmed by it. Not due to the entertaining storyline or the complex interior life of its characters, but because for much of the book, I was a bit bored. It was one of those stories that had all of the potential of a modern literary epic for me, but not all the gas to get it there.
Maybe it was the hype over this book and what I saw as unmet potential. Or maybe it was just me and my lack of concentration during some pivotal plot moments. Whatever it was, this is unfortunately one that will probably get lost in my stack of "read books" for the year.
That all being said, here is the good stuff...
WHAT I LOVED: The book didn't avoid talking about the hard stuff. Focusing intentionally on mental illness and addiction, the book's ultimate apex is centered around a really awful event that causes an awkward rift in the Kate and Peter's relationship. Keane did a beautiful job of writing Kate and Peter's story as they have to grow up really fast and mature in ways no teenagers ever should. But, ultimately, it was Anne's journey back to them that was the shining star of this book for me. The themes of forgiveness and mercy were apparent and beautifully portrayed. And, for that I am really grateful.
WHAT I DIDN'T LOVE: The narration was a bit confusing for me. Point of view flipped around often and I didn't always know which character was being spoken about. This caused a definite frustration that could've been avoided with perhaps a different layout or even a bit more attention to making those shifts a bit more clear. On top of that, maybe as a consequence of this style of narration, some of the characters felt flat or too predictable. Ultimately, I desired a more complex and colorful cast for such a beautiful and rich plot line.
Overall, a good story with a profound message despite its sometimes lacking characters.
Yes for sure. ASK AGAIN YES is a solid summer read.
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