Book Review: Ask Again, Yes

This story of two families and the traumatic events that they face, is one that I have been looking forward to for some time. Although Ask Again, Yes has received many glowing reviews, there are still some readers who found that it fell flat, and I have to admit that I can see where they are coming from.

Kate and Peter are the focal point of this book and their love story is perhaps one of the most realistic that I have read in some time. However, despite starting out as such a strong character, I felt that Kate lacked further development as the years passed. Somehow, she became lost in motherhood and married life, despite being a career-woman working towards (and eventually obtaining) her master’s degree. I would have liked to hear much more of her voice throughout. By the same token, Peter’s character became increasingly disappointing. His choices and circumstances led him to become a dramatically different person, and one that I could no longer connect with. I felt a growing distance from him as his challenges continued across decades. Many reviewers have also made note of a significant time jump following Kate and Peter’s reunion, which only seemed to heighten the disconnect between the reader and the protagonists.

Despite these seemingly negative points, I prefer to believe that most writers are fairly clever, and that their craft tends to be well thought out. It seems to me that the time jump functions as a type of metaphor, giving the reader a sense of familiarity with Kate and Peter’s adult lives and relationships with their immediate families. Keane’s ability to shift the reader’s connection to each character from one of love to disappointment or disconnect and ultimately forgiveness is subtle, yet effective. She reminds us that we are all imperfect, and that as much as we are capable of love, we are capable of disappointing those we love; that despite our traumas and our failures, we can still turn out okay. That there is still so much to be grateful for.

Thank you Mary Beth Keane for sharing your talent, and thank you to Net Galley and Simon & Schuster Canada for the opportunity to review this advance reader copy.