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Ask Again, Yes

A Novel
Written by: Mary Beth Keane
Narrated by: Molly Pope
Length: 12 hrs and 42 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (43 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

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’ wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne, sets the stage for the stunning events to come. 

Ask Again, Yes by award-winning author Mary Beth Keane, is a beautifully moving exploration of the friendship and love that blossoms between Francis’ 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. Ask Again, Yes reveals how the events of childhood look different when reexamined from the distance of adulthood - villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace. 

“I devoured this astonishing tale of two families linked by chance, love, and tragedy. Mary Beth Keane gives us characters so complex and alive that I find myself still thinking of them days after turning the final page. A must-read.” (J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Saints for All Occasions)

“Mary Beth Keane is at the height of her powers in this novel about the sacrifices we make when we choose to build a life with someone. In Ask Again, Yes Keane tells a story about the fragility of happiness, the violence lurking beneath everyday life, and, ultimately, the power of love. If you’ve ever loved someone beyond reason, you will love this wise, tender, and beautiful book.” (Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints)

©2019 Mary Beth Keane (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

What the critics say

"Narrator Molly Pope delivers this character-driven exploration of two families whose stories intertwine over decades. With sensitivity and insight, she creates believable, multilayered characters, leading listeners through shifting narratives across time.... Pope's steady pace and excellent voicing of dialogue work well. Like the event at its center, this story unfolds with long-lasting reverberations for listeners." (AudioFile Magazine)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Overall...boring.

Started out great...but lost me midway with too many (boring) stories about different characters.

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Magnificent

I can’t remember when I enjoyed a family saga more. The characters all felt so real and I couldn’t wait to find out how their lives would unfold. An exceptional novel.

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Excellent

I wasn't sure at first, not normally my thing.... Only "read" it because I was looking for something to read and my spouce mentioned that Jimmy Fallon on the tonight show was reading with his audience.... but midway through and definitely the last few chapters I just couldn't stop listening! Great read! Loved the different voices Molly Pope used for the different characters, amazing job.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Caroline
  • 2019-08-03

Wanted to like it but....

I want to like this story so much and some parts I thought were good, but the time jumps were just not a style I like. And even though Peter is a main character, I felt very little emotion or personality from him. I liked Kate though so I wanted to see more of their relationship in the earlier years rather than the story skimming quickly from their early 20s to their late 30s. Sure, I agree with other reviews that the characters are honest, flawed and real but there wasn’t any drive in me to know how it ends. Would I recommend it to friends? Maybe, but probably not.

The narrator was fine overall in terms of performance. My only issue was that it was challenging to tell when a character’s mental flashback, or even flashback-within-a-flashback, had ended and since so much of this story revolves around the timeline, that’s important to know. That problem could be more due to the writing style than the narration though.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Minneapolis listener
  • Eden Prairie, MN
  • 2019-06-21

An extraordinarily s

A book to love and to long to end well.

Characters that move into your own life, echoing common struggles like estrangement, parental mental illness and alcoholism, heroism not where you’d expect it and love, love, love.

A beautiful and meaningful book. A gift.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • L. Hardy
  • 2019-07-11

Peter is a cold fish

The thing that strikes me the most is that the reader gets no sense of any emotion whatsoever from Peter, whom I consider to be the main character in the story. This was really frustrating for me and made me downgrade my rating for this book. I enjoyed it but wasn’t drawn in because he was so cold. Would I tell my friends to read this? I don’t think so. I’m not sorry I read it (and really enjoyed quite a bit of it) but the author told us everything rather than let us experience it.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Betsey
  • 2019-06-13

Truth and fiction sometimes go hanging hand

The author captures real emotions and honest family situations that parallel reality so clearly that I wouldn’t be surprised to read that such an incident had actually occurred. Her multiple points of view give such insight into her characters thoughts and feelings that the reader almost feels like she/he is sitting in the living room or car of the protagonists as they navigate the paths that lead them to the satisfying yet far from pat conclusion. I would love to follow Peter and Kate as they grow through middle to old age - whether they continue their tenuous road to recovery or take a different direction. Ann, Lena, and Frances are well drawn as the secondary characters, who complicate the lives of these dynamic and flawed but totally realistic lovers. I will read anything Keane puts forward.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Cassidy
  • 2019-07-21

Pretty darn boring.

I got half way through this book, and truly couldnt keep listening. I think half way through a book is really giving it a good shot. And I say... this is a boring book.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Jaclyn P
  • OOLTEWAH, TN, US
  • 2019-08-16

This Book Was A Waste of Time

What in the world. Why is this such a big deal. I read this because of Jimmy Fallon’s summer book club, and surprisingly this book won against some others that were ACTUALLY COMPELLING! I kept waiting for the story to pick up speed and have some a-ha moment. GEEZ!!!!!!

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • A.B
  • 2019-08-01

and the point is...?

i always thought a book should have somewhat of a point.. a reason... a purpose... Many potential options- but no - nothing... performance of narrator wasn’t bad, but often she didn’t pause when a paragraph went from one to the next - particularly when it went from talking about the past to the present... waste of money!

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-09-05

Grabs Hold of Your Heart and Doesn't Let Go

I have listened to more than 400 audio books over the past 10 years and although I have enjoyed several of them immensely, not once have I ever felt compelled to sit down and write a review; until now. There was just something about this book that was so profoundly moving to me that I just feel the overwhelming desire to try to express it somehow. Not only was it beautifully and intelligently written, but Ms. Keane's attention to detail and her ability to create a narrative that just FELT so completely realistic was unlike anything I've ever read before. I have to admit that I can't put my finger on what the magic of this book is, exactly, but there was something about it that reached a place deep inside of me and it was more like I experienced the book than listened to it. The narrator was fantastic as well, a perfect choice, completing what I would consider to be to be a truly marvelous work of art. I can't recommend it strongly enough. Fantastic!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Esther Cunningham
  • 2019-07-25

Not as Good, but Not as Bad Either...

I have struggled with my impressions of this book. On the one hand are the 5 star reviews with glowing comments about the reality, beauty and depth of the story. And one cannot argue that the author was not ambitious enough in capturing life’s woes: alcoholism, infidelity and mental health. However, the writing style was so plain, the language so low key and average that I had to fight through the desire to stop reading. But I am glad I reached the end, it was worth the effort. Would I recommend the book? No, but I would enjoy discussing it.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Erica Gill
  • 2019-06-20

Absolutely fantastic!

Beautiful story! Deeply written to reflect the humanness in us all. Get this book. It’s so wonderful!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful