Before We Were Strangers by Brenda Novak



Sloane McBride’s mother, Clara, disappeared 23 years ago following a violent argument with her father, Ed. Sloane was only five-years old at the time but vividly recalls the details of what she saw and heard that night. She left town suddenly and without warning when she was eighteen to escape her father’s domination and emotional cruelty, leaving behind her boyfriend, Micah, and best friend, Paige. Now she’s returned home to Texas after having gained fame and success as a model to finally investigate and solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. At the top of her suspect list? Her father.



The story begins with the death of Sloane’s beloved agent, mentor and benefactor who had encouraged her to go back home and reconnect with her family and friends. I really felt how alone Sloane was with no real meaningful relationships to anchor her anywhere. Even her return home was met with suspicion and hostility. Every relationship was complicated, including her best friend and ex-boyfriend who had married each other, share a son and are now divorced. The reactions to her return felt real, even if some were harsh and unfair, consistent with small town dynamics.

The mystery was gnarly, taking twisty and uncertain paths, especially with unreliable witnesses who were swayed by Sloane’s influential father, the town mayor. I found Sloane pretty naive and too trusting at times, especially where it concerned Paige. The romantic element was subtle, providing some relief to the tension. I enjoyed this story for its unpredictability and mystery, thinking I had this thing figured out until a major curve ball was thrown. There are a host of characters you won’t like and everyone has their share of flaws. That just made everything more interesting.

Book Info

  • Release Date: December 4, 2018
  • Page Numbers: 400


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(I received an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review)

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