Brian Stanhope and Francis Gleeson meet on the job as rookie cops with the New York Police Department in the 1970s. As they settle into their new careers, they each marry and buy houses next door to one another in Gillam, a quiet suburb. Three daughters quickly follow for Francis and his wife, Lena; their youngest, Kate, becomes best friends with Brian and Anne's only son, Peter. One night when Peter and Kate are in eighth grade, a shattering incident changes both families' lives forever. Mary Beth Keane (Fever) explores family, mental illness, heartbreak and forgiveness in her third novel, Ask Again, Yes.
Keane begins her novel with the men's first shift together, then briefly explores their backgrounds and Francis's courtship with Lena. Anne's origins and personality remain in shadow until many years later, when the effects of her mental state and actions have taken their toll on both families. Keane traces Peter and Kate's story from their shared childhoods through their separate teenage years (after Peter moves away), and the life they later build together, as adults. Her characters, especially Peter and Kate, are flawed, thoughtful, hard-working people trying to make sense of ordinary and sometimes impossible events, and dealing with the ripple effects of the past on the present. As Peter fights the demons he inherited from both parents, Kate and Francis struggle with their own burdens of anger, guilt and hope. Ask Again, Yes is a quiet, thought-provoking family drama and a testament to the power of forgiveness. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams