Before And Again is a tale of loss, acceptance and new beginnings, published in 2018.
In order to survive after the death of her five year old daughter in a tragic road traffic accident, Mackenzie Cooper, now known as Maggie Reid, lives a quiet life in the rural town of Devon, Vermont. The trial, her arrest, time in the media spotlight and the breakdown of her marriage left Maggie feeling increasing stress over the lack of privacy and the intense anguish and guilt that never leaves her. All she wants is to live in obscurity and get through the remainder of her probationary period. Devon seems to attract people who, for one reason or another, have a past they need to move on from.
Maggie enjoys working as a make up artist at the local spa, helping to make her clients feel good about themselves, hiding their perceived flaws. She has made some good friends, loves her small cabin and her pets and has settled into Devon life.
Maggie’s close friend, Grace Emory, is a massage therapist at the spa and has been in Devon for the past twelve years. The two of them never speak about their pasts, just accept each other and their friendship for what it is in the present. When Grace’s teenage son Chris, is arrested for hacking the Twitter account of a well known and powerful journalist, it signals the beginning of the end of their peaceful lives.
Maggie is torn between staying anonymous and not violating her parole by associating with someone facing a felony charge, or standing by her friend as the case against Chris escalates, with the FBI becoming involved. Then to complicate matters further, Maggie’s ex-husband, Edward, and her estranged brother turn up in Devon.
I’ve enjoyed several of Barbara Delinsky’s books and this was no exception. Maggie is a sympathetic character from the start. How such a trauma could impact on both parents is dealt with sensitively and realistically. Maggie’s and Edward’s characters develop throughout the story, showing how they work though the healing process, each in their own way. Grace was harder to like initially, seeming quite self-absorbed even when Chris finds himself in trouble, but as her story develops it becomes more apparent why she gives that impression.
There’s a powerful theme of forgiveness and trust running through the character driven narrative – self forgiveness is at the forefront, but also forgiveness for those who perhaps didn’t handle the fallout from their own distressing experiences in the best (although understandable) way. A tale of loss, acceptance and new beginnings.
Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment but the resulting collision was enough to rob her not only of her beloved daughter but ultimately of her marriage, family, and friends―and thanks to the nonstop media coverage, even her privacy. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog.
Forced to start again, she moved to a small town under a new name – Maggie Reid – and her only goal is to stay under the radar. She’s thankful for the few friends she’s made, although she can’t risk telling them too much about her previous life.
But Maggie isn’t the only one in this peaceful town with secrets. When a friend’s teenage son is thrust into the national spotlight, Maggie is torn between protecting herself or stepping into the glare to be at their side. Will she find the courage to face the world again?