Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big lawned, suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours. Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone.
It’s up to the children – Lena’s youngest, Kate and Anne’s only child, Peter – to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will be almost broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all. A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later…
A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood – villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so. A story of how, if we’re lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.
I read this as a buddy read with Clair who blogs here and Cath who is a bookstagram friend, you can see her page here. We read half the book, had a chat about it and then finished with another chat at the end, very relaxed, very pleasant.
Ask Again, Yes was something I initially described as a community drama, comparable perhaps to Little Fires Everywhere or A Good Neighbourhood, although as the book progressed it became much more family centred.
Set in America, 2 families; the husbands work together for the NYPD, the wives both young mothers but very different do not mix. The children play out in the street with others and Kate and Peter form a very close bond. An unexpected tragedy smashes this all apart and the latter part of the story is the aftermath of this and the impact on both families.
I enjoyed this character driven novel a lot. Told in the 3rd person from several perspectives this family drama explores themes of love and loss, mental illness and alcohol are central to the story as are relationships. It covers a lifetime and the writing skilfully covers vast amounts, weaving information into the story and thus providing a detailed and engaging story.
Ultimately I think a story about survival perhaps, forgiveness and recovery, but there were aspects that were very sad. The title I love, Ask Again, Yes and it resonated at a couple of different points in the story. Resilience was important and while reading we reflected on the important relationships within this book in which many of the relationships were so damaged.
This is general fiction, but definitely for fans of the aforementioned Little Fires Everywhere and A Good Neighbourhood, also Big Little Lies and East of Eden also comes to mind.