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Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Literary fiction

Ask Again, Yes

by Mary Beth Keane

Quick take

You'll get wrecked (and put back together).

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Emotional


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Police


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SuburbanDrama

    Suburban drama

Why I love it

Stephanie Howell
BOTM Ambassador,

As a big-hearted, sensitive, and voracious bookworm, I rate books on the way they make me feel and the impression they will leave on my heart. Full of lovely and intimate revelations, Ask Again, Yes left me feeling exposed and crushed, in the best way possible.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are NYPD cops, who by chance end up living next door to each other in the same New York City suburb. Despite their working relationship, their wives don’t share the same casual rapport; especially since Brian’s wife (Anne), is a tempestuous woman who trusts no one. Still, there’s no bad blood between the families—at least not until one summer night when a shocking act of violence upends all their lives forever.

After 40 years of following the Stanhopes and the Gleesons (in one luxurious afternoon of reading), these characters had taken up residence in my heart. I knew their vulnerabilities and demons as if they were members of my own family. Not just a literary novel, this book is a staggeringly raw portrayal of mental illness, addiction, and the ties that bind us. I hope you adore it as much as I did.

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Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are two NYPD rookies assigned to the same Bronx precinct in 1973. They aren’t close friends on the job, but end up living next door to each other outside the city. What goes on 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 stunning events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a beautifully moving exploration of the friendship and love that blossoms between Francis’s youngest daughter, Kate, and Brian’s son, Peter, who are born six months apart. In the spring of Kate and Peter’s eighth grade year a violent event divides the neighbors, the Stanhopes are forced to move away, and the children are forbidden to have any further contact. But Kate and Peter find a way back to each other, and their relationship is tested by the echoes from their past.

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Get an early look from the first pages of Ask Again, Yes.

Member thoughts

All (9720)
All (9720)
Love (4873)
Like (4235)
Dislike (612)
9883 ratings
  • 49% Love
  • 43% Like
  • 6% Dislike
  • Richmond, VA

    This was such a sprawling, beautifully thought-provoking story. It wasn’t at all what the publisher’s blurbs made it sound like, which was fine by me. I’ll be thinking about these families for awhile.

  • Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

    A thought-provoking book with interesting plot twists...I found myself asking, “What would YOU do if you were that character in that exact moment?” And quite often, I just wasn’t sure...A great read!

  • Starkville, MS

    Perhaps my favorite of the summer. I’ll be thinking about it for a long time. You’ll find yourself somewhere in this story, along with empathy for those you already love & those you don’t understand.

  • Chapel Hill, NC

    This book was slow to start but once I really started I couldn’t put it down! It centers around two generations of two families and it’s a traditional love story as much as it is a family love story.

  • Fairhope, AL

    This book is going to stay with me for a while. It’s a story of forgiveness, family, friendship and most importantly, the power of love. The characters are complex, wounded and strong. I can’t wait to

  • Butte, MT

    This is one of the best books I’ve read since becoming a member. The love story of Peter & Kate is so complicated & so real. I couldn’t put this one down & I want to know what their lives are like tod

  • Youngwood, PA

    This book draws an excellent picture of reality, human interaction, and love. It’s only when you reach the last page that you realize how thoroughly it describes life. A beautiful piece of literature.

  • Evansville, IN

    I loved how fluid and intriguing this book was. It felt like it really hit home on many issues that people face day to day with some added drama for reading. Didn’t want It to end but loved the ending

  • Westerville , OH

    I loved this book! I was hooked from the first page. The characters were well developed and I couldn’t wait to see what happened to each of them. It was definitely one of my favorite reads this year.


    Heavy and often painful read, but so good. Complex and flawed characters I found myself rooting for even though they were not always likable. I hoped for redemption in the end and wasn’t disappointed.

  • Eagle Mountain , UT

    This book is absolutely amazing! I loved ever bit of it. I suggest this read for anyone because it has a little of everything in it. It has family chaos, tragedy, young ❤️, addiction & forgiveness.

  • Indianapolis, IN

    This book won’t leave my mind, and to me, that is what 5-star literature is. This is a story that presents hard topics in a beautiful way. It is the kinda of story that you find is still being told to

  • Saint Paul, MN

    This one will stay with me. The characters were complex and human, and the storytelling didn’t shy away from the long-lasting effects of trauma. It made me contemplate guilt, grudges, and forgiveness.

  • Hudson, NH

    I don’t know how as to describe this book, aside from saying that it is “real”. Like real life it is sad, gritty, trying, happy, depressing, and funny all wrapped in to one. 100% worth the read.

  • Topeka , KS

    I didn’t want to finish this book because I felt like I had spent so much time getting to know the characters. I enjoyed their complexities, and that no one is entirely good or bad, just very human.

  • Fargo, ND

    You’ll feel as exhausted as if you walked the length of New York City after finishing this book, but it is worth every step. Intriguing characters in a sticky situation that will have you locked in.

  • Radnor, OH

    A story of friendship that withstands some of the biggest challenges life can offer while treading itself thru family insecurities & issues. Watch the characters be strong, lean on each other, & love.

  • Ozark, AR

    I loved this book!! If you love family drama, you have to pick this one up! All of the characters are very well developed. All of them will pull at your heartstrings. The author does an excellent job

  • Manassas, VA

    Yes to this book! The love story within is captivating but not cheesy, fleshed out with both dramatic & mundane moments of tension and dissatisfaction. Raw and real family dynamics = highly relatable.

  • Tallahassee , FL

    This story is very real. The characters so human and their actions so believable and understandable. You can and do sympathize with each of them. A great read about family, sacrifice and forgiveness.

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