Ask Again, Yes

Ask Again, Yes

by Mary Beth Keane

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“A beautiful novel, bursting at the seams with empathy.” —Elle

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the friendship between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

How much can a family forgive?

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne, sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope, born six months apart. One shocking night their loyalties are divided, and their bond will be tested again and again over the next 40 years. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, 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. Kate and Peter’s love story, while haunted by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781982107000
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 05/28/2019
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 479
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Mary Beth Keane attended Barnard College and the University of Virginia, where she received an MFA. She has been named one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 under 35,” and was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for fiction writing. She currently lives in Pearl River, New York with her husband and their two sons. She is also the author of The Walking People, Fever, and Ask AgainYes.

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Ask Again, Yes 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous 14 days ago
MaryND 16 days ago
Mary Beth Keane’s engrossing new novel, “Ask Again, Yes,” begins as NYPD rookie Francis Gleeson waits for fellow rookie and temporary partner Brian Stanhope prior to starting their shift in 1973. Their relationship is cordial although not necessarily friendly, but when the house next door to the Gleeson’s home in the Westchester suburb of Gillam becomes available, Francis lets Brian know and the Stanhopes move in. Thus begins an uneasy connection between the two families that deepens when their children, classmates Peter Stanhope and Kate Gleeson, forge a close friendship. Just as that friendship is about to blossom into something more, however, the shattering events of one spring night change everything and connect the families in ways none of them could ever have imagined. Spanning almost 50 years, “Ask Again, Yes” tells the stories of the Gleesons and the Stanhopes from the alternating perspectives of several members of each family, sensitively dealing along the way with mental illness, alcoholism and the ways families build and test their capacity for loyalty, compassion and forgiveness. I really enjoyed this book; the writing is fluid and assured, the plot never veers into melodrama or sensationalism (which it easily could have) and the story and polyphonic format reminded me a lot of Ann Patchett’s last book, “Commonwealth,” which I also recommend. Great pick for readers looking for a literary family drama to get lost in this summer. Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing me with an ARC of this title in return for my honest review.
Rachel Bennett 18 days ago
Ask Again, Yes is a beautiful family drama that takes a hard look at generational trauma, diseases and mental illness, and the overall difficulties of being a part of a family. So I can get it out of the way, the one thing that really bothered me about this book was the huge jumps forward in time. I'm the type of reader that wants to spend slow, quality time with the characters so that by the time I leave them, I feel like I'm walking away from a friend. Because the scope of this story is so broad, Keane does not give a lot of attention to small, unimportant moments, which to me are what really makes a book a lot of the time. This isn't so much a criticism, as I understand why she made the choices she did, but an explanation of why this wasn't a 5-star favorite for me. I did appreciate that we got to walk with Peter and Kate through 30 years of their life, but I just kept wanting more details about events that were glossed over! But the good...and there is so much good! This is, through and through, a story about family. A story about parents and the ways that their decisions can make or break their children. A story about marriage and romantic love and the difficulties that come along with making a lifelong commitment to someone who can never be perfect. A story about found family, and the relationships we make with people outside our nuclear family that can become more important to us than anything else in the world. A story about disease, and the way that illnesses of the mind and body get passed down through generations. A story about forgiveness, and the fact that if you want to live in a family, forgiveness is going to be necessary. A story about in-laws and the family that are forced upon us that we don't choose or even want. I could go on and on. But I felt like Keane really found her story and then took it apart, examining it from every angle, before she put it back together, and what resulted was a really successful family drama. Oh, one more thing. That "violent event that separates the neighbors" (in the plot summary, not a spoiler!)....prepare thyself!
AnnieMNH 2 hours ago
This was a beautiful story that held many messages. It's a story of family, love, forgiveness, and hope. The reader follows the Stanhope and Gleeson families through the years and it is so difficult to stop turning pages! Mary Beth Keane has created well drawn characters that the reader will feel they know. This novel would make a wonderful choice for book clubs as there is so much to discuss. Very well done, a keeper for your bookshelf! Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner, and Mary Beth Keane for granting me the pleasure of reading this book and sharing my thoughts.
Anonymous 5 days ago
This book stuck several chords with me that no multi-generational novel has before. It follows NYPD officers Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope and their families over the course of 4 decades. It is really a character study of Francis and Lena Gleeson and their daughter Kate, and Anne Stanhope and her son Peter. The writing was excellent and you really get to know the backstory with all of the main characters. It shows how life changes your viewpoint on events as well as the enduring power of love. Keane makes the point that not all "bad guys" are lacking humanity. There is something in this book anyone can relate to and I could relate to most characters at some point in the journey of their lives. Keane does not shy away from the hard subjects stillbirth, alcoholism and mental illness. Not many books address the subject of stillbirth like this one does. While it is definitely not a focal point, the after affects on multiple characters are shown very realistically throughout the book. Alcoholism is told from several angles. She also shows mental illness in a way that makes you really understand the character. The way Keane writes leaves you feeling like you know the characters. Overall it is excellent, the only thing that kept it from being a 5 star read for me was I felt it lagged in a few places. Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner, and Mary Beth Keane for the electronic ARC for this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous 6 days ago
This is a beautifully written multi-generational family saga. Two families who live next door to each other are forever linked by tragic events that unfold in their lives. All the topics that make up a good family drama are here; angst, love, hatred, forgiveness, etc. A truly special story!
DeediReads 7 days ago
There are stories, and then there are stories. This is a rich, delicious novel that makes you forget there’s an outside world. There’s only this handful of characters and the love and heartbreak between them. The two main characters are Kate — the youngest of three daughters to Francis and Lena — and Peter, the only son of Brian and Anne. But the narrative starts with Francis’ perspective as a young police officer in the Bronx. He yearns for the suburbs, an escape from the stress and violence of his job and a return to a world sort of like his childhood in Ireland. Lena never wanted to leave NYC, but she can see it’s important to him. Still, she’s lonely. Then Brian — Francis’ partner but not quite friend — and Anne move in next door. Lena tries to make friends with Anne, but Anne will strangely have none of it. So Kate and Peter grow up next to each other, and from the very beginning, they know intuitively that their souls are entwined. And yet their parents’ chilly animosity to one another won’t let them just be. When they’re about 14, they’re torn apart by a terrifying, violent night that will impact every day of the rest of their lives. But years later, they reconnect, and then their own relationship becomes the forefront of the story. But it’s not simple, and it’s not easy — the scars our childhoods leave behind never are. Rather than switching POVs between chapters, the narrative weaves between the characters’ points of view seamlessly from one sentence to the next. When they’re young, most is from Peter; when they’re adults, most is from Kate. And a bit is from each of their parents, too. The story has really strong themes of love, childhood trauma, mental health, the danger of pretending to the world that everything is fine at home when it’s not. Also addiction, the repetition of parents’ mistakes, and acceptance. So much to pack into a relatively short novel, but wow, was it beautiful and heartbreaking and just meant to exist.
JadedStar 9 days ago
I struggled with this one. It's not my usual flavor so I read it slowly, not knowing what to expect. It glided along at somewhat a tedious pace. I kept waiting, and waiting, and yawning, and waiting for something big and pivotal to happen but it never did. There was no charisma, no "wow, I can't believe that really happened." This is a story of a family, it could be anyone's story, but I don't understand what made it unique enough to be a full book. The characters were hard to keep straight at times and were quite bland, and the nonlinear information was mingled in with current situations which made it hard to follow. I was mostly bored, mostly just wanting it to be over, feeling agonizingly tortured. I'm stuck in between 1 and 2 stars, but giving 2 stars because I did not passionately hate it, I was simply bored enough to fall asleep. Thank you to netgalley for approving me for a copy to review.
Alfoster 12 days ago
This is a hard book to review--not because I didn't like it but because it's hard to put into words all the emotions I felt while reading it! I adore family dramas and this one is multi-generational so it's complex, but you are so immersed in the two families that it's hard not to be depressed when they go through trauma and happy when they are not. Basically, you just need to be prepared to realize this isn't a nice fluffy read; it's an amazing story of mental illness, childhood secrets, alcoholism, familial obligations, regret, and ultimately, redemption. It's a little like Romeo and Juliet on steroids--and I mean that it the very best way as I adore Shakespeare and loved this novel; I will be pondering and reveling in these emotions for a long time! Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
bookluvr35SL 14 days ago
This book starts with Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two NYPD rookies assigned to the same Bronx precinct in 1973. They both get married and have kids. Brian moves out to the suburbs, right next door to the house Francis and his family live. Francis & Lena's youngest daughter is the same age as Brian and Anne's only child. Naturally, Kate and Peter spend all their time together and become best friends, and later it becomes more than just a friendship. When something terrible happens that affects both families, Peter and Kate lose touch. When they reconnect during college, stars realign and everything is right again. But they face challenges that neither one expects or is prepared for. This book addresses the topic of nature versus nurture, and whether some things are fated to be no matter what circumstances are thrown in the mix. The author wrote the book in such a way that I felt I were actually there watching the families grow and evolve over time. This is a very enjoyable read that is appropriate for anyone.
Elena_L 19 days ago
[3,5/5 stars] ASK AGAIN, YES revolves around two neighboring families in a suburban town - Gleeson and Stanhope. Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope work at the same police station and end up living at the same street. One day something terrible happens and the two families drift apart. This book explores some daily but relevant topics such as family, sacrifice, forgiveness, mental illness, recovery. love and marriage. It took me almost half part of the book to get into the book - there were some fast-paced parts while other parts were quite slow and dragged. Nevertheless, once I was invested in the story, I couldn't stop reading it. The writing is engaging and this book is a character-driven plot. Keane made me deeply think about how complex can be a family's dynamic and gave me another perspective of facing certain problems. In addition, this book was kind of my self-discover journey by teaching me more about forgiveness and second chances. In the beginning, I felt quite indignant about the how circumstances happened then I was filled with hope. The characters were so authentic that they will remain in our mind for a long time. Finally, the ending was just at the point. ASK AGAIN, YES is an evocative family drama full of pure emotions. I highly recommend it and will read more of this author. [I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review]
denise66 19 days ago
I did win this book for a review of it. Very interesting book about two very different families. Lena and Francis have 3 girls one of which is Kate who is best friends with Peter who is the son of Brian and Anne who live next door. These families are not close to each other but Peter and Kate are close friends. When a tragedy happens they are forbidden to see each other again. Each family has issues and sometimes think that no one has the problems they have or put on a good front to everyone but inside the house is very different. This is how Kate and Peter try to find each other later in life also. Very good family drama and all about the characters who are well developed and true to life
ColoradoGirl71 19 days ago
4.5 memorable character stars (rounded up) An epic family saga that begs the question – can you go home again? Mary Beth Keane has written a novel that brings her characters to life, the pacing is excellent, and the events that happen are realistic and heart-breaking. There are some tough issues addressed including mental health and alcoholism, and the impact on people. This was one book that I didn’t want to end. The book opens with two young men who join the New York police force, start families, and move to the suburbs – in fact, they end up as neighbors. Their children, Kate and Peter, become best friends, until a terrible tragedy occurs, and one family falls apart and moves away. The two families are very different – Francis and Lena have a loving marriage and provide stability for their daughters, including Kate. Things are different at Brian and Anne’s house. Anne has serious mental health concerns that were not treated and Peter ends up being negatively impacted. Kate and Peter end up reconnecting as young adults and build a life together. Peter, especially, needs to grapple with his past in order to find peace with this life and family. The book ends with a powerful sense of forgiveness and I marvel that these characters became so real to me. I recommend this one if you like character-driven family stories.