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Ask Again, Yes

by Mary Beth Keane

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,883868,497 (3.94)79
"A family saga about two Irish American families in a New York suburb, the love between two of their children, and the tragedies that threaten to tear them apart and destroy their futures"--

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» See also 79 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
I read this book after hearing good reviews of her new book "The Full Moon". As it turns out I really enjoyed this book and got "The Full Moon" shortly afterward and finished that one so 2 books by the same author within a month. As to the book, this was an excellent "family saga". It surrounds 2 families of Irish Catholic policeman and covers a large span of time. Keane does an excellent job of flushing out all the key characters by shifting the narrator from chapter to chapter. This book touches on a lot of social issues that have taken prominence over the last 40-50 years. Although the book was almost 400 pages, it kept my interest. Keane is an excellent writer and I do intend to read all her other books. A worthwhile read. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Sep 16, 2023 |
UVA Corner Book Club, 3rd book of the year (2019)
  pollycallahan | Jul 1, 2023 |
Before I get into the specifics of this book, let me state that I love literary fiction. In fact, it is my favorite genre, if I may use that word to describe literary fiction, of fiction. But this book has issues, many in fact. I prefer books that dwell on character rather than plot. I love to see how life changes the characters, both for better and for worse. And how characters react and respond to the ups and downs in life, how they attempt to overcome obstacles encountered in life. Not that plot is not important, it is, but I prefer works in which the plot is secondary to the characters.

The book is too long, way too long. At 390 pages it is bloated. Too much of the book is internal monologue, characters thinking about the past, how they wish they could change the past for the better and done things differently. A little of this goes a long ways, and this book was full of it. The book should have cut at least 100 pages and been a much better book as a result. There are sections of the book in which nothing happens. Pages and pages of nothing happening. Even the most patient reader would get bored with this.

Another issue is the book contains too many characters. I track the characters in every book I read and this book had 100 named characters (plus some other characters that were referenced, but not named) in 22 chapters. Do the math. That is four and a half NEW characters in every chapter. Some of these characters appeared once and were never seen or heard from again. Some appeared for the first time late in the book. Way too many characters.

Much of the prose was convoluted and difficult to read. A character would be referenced and then pronouns used to refer to him, and then suddenly pronouns used to reference a different character in the same paragraph. This was extremely confusing.

Most of the characters were flat and not well developed. I never felt like I knew any character well, except for Peter. Even Kate seemed impossible for me to relate to.

The dialogue was uncreative. We have characters that were raised in Ireland and came to America, some who lived in America all their lives, yet all spoke exactly the same. The older characters spoke just like the young kids spoke. People raised in other countries do not speak like those raised in this country, nor do young kids (under ten years old) speak like those do in their 50s and 60s. This was lazy writing on the part of the author. I would love to have seen more creative dialogue.

The book begins by following Kate, our supposed main character and protagonist, but she totally disappears half-way through the book. The reader is invested in her and she disappears? How odd. Then, in the last third of the book, she reappears. In her absence, Peter becomes more prominent. In fact, Peter should have been the protagonist, rather than Kate, as the book is really his story, not Kate’s.

There were some things that happened in the book that were unrealistic. Peter lost his wallet in a bar and some man found it and dropped it off at his house the next day, leaving it with a ten year old child that answered the door? Who would do that? A responsible person would drop off the wallet with an adult at the house, not a kid. Also, why did Anne never have a cell phone? Every other character had one but her. She was not that old and it is not realistic for her not to own a cell phone.

The ending was a little blasé. It was almost as if the author reached her page count and then had to suddenly wrap it all up in a single chapter where everyone gathers together, realizes how great life is, hold hands, and sing kumbaya.

Despite the issues with the book and the difficulty I had to finish it, I give it two stars, which is well below average, but earned for making me care about Peter. His story was sad, and I had empathy for him, seeing him face the issues he faced in which he had to overcome. I cannot recommend one spend money on this book, but if you have to read it, borrow a copy and save your money for a better book. ( )
  dwcofer | May 24, 2023 |
Unhappiness, addiction, and mental illness permeate this novel, but the redemptive power of belief, hope, friendship and love overcomes it all. Francis and Brian are cops who like their jobs. But Francis’s wife Lena is lonely, and Brian’s wife Anne is unstable. Their kids, Kate and Peter, grow up next door to each other, and their growing friendship leads to a volatile episode that leaves both families shattered. But though they are separated, the bond between Kate and Peter cannot be severed, and the lives of these two families remain entwined, whether they like it or not. The characters are well drawn, their lives minutely described, and if the ending is not perfect, sometimes that’s just the way life is. ( )
  Maydacat | May 12, 2023 |
Kate and Peter's life and love story is an unusual one, rooted in their childhood and a violent event. All of the characters have fatal flaws, making the story both real and sad. One of those times where I "talk" to the characters and tell them what they're doing wrong! But then you wonder, what would I have done in that situation? A good read. ( )
  cherybear | Apr 2, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Beth Keaneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Pope, MollyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Owen and Emmett
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Francis Gleeson, tall and thin in his powder blue policeman's uniform, stepped out of the sun and into the shadow of the stocky stone building that was the station house of the Forty-First Precinct.
"You can't reason with a person who won't be reasoned with," Brian said quietly.
They both learned that a memory is a fact that has been dyed and trimmed and rinsed so many times that it comes out looking almost unrecognizable to anyone else who was in that room, anyone else who was standing on the grass beneath that telephone pole.
"We repeat what we don't repair,"...
He'd been looking at her face for so long that sometimes he forgot to notice it.
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"A family saga about two Irish American families in a New York suburb, the love between two of their children, and the tragedies that threaten to tear them apart and destroy their futures"--

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